One of the most critical decisions that can be made in a DUI case is whether to fight the case in a jury trial or instruct your attorney to seek a plea deal on your behalf. This decision can not be taken lightly and must be considered with the benefit of all of the facts related to the case and a full rundown from your attorney regarding the strengths and weaknesses of your circumstances and the tendencies of the judge and prosecutor in the court where your case is pending.
When you meet with your attorney, deciding whether to work out a deal or not should be one of the crucial questions that are discussed and hopefully decided. This will give your attorney direction as to the moves that will be made next to best represent your interests. There is no reason to waste time doing certain investigative things if those things are not done towards your ultimate goal.
If you have not decided what the goal will be in a DUI case, the attorney will be left in a position of not knowing what the best path to take will be for you and your situation. When I meet with clients in DUI cases, I make sure that everyone is on the same page as to exactly our strategy moving forward when we leave the meeting. This way, we can all work in concert to achieve the right goal for you.
Factors to Help Decide Whether to Take a Plea Deal
Several factors must be considered in deciding whether to take a plea deal versus filing a motion to dismiss or setting the DUI case for a jury trial. The first consideration is whether or not you can win the case or not. If you can not beat the case or win the motion to dismiss, you have the answer you need. There is no reason to waste time and energy on things that will help you.
Further, if your attorney files worthless motions and tries to fight a case that should not be fought, this will make the prosecutor and judge angry, and they will likely take it out on you.
This is why I am always shocked when clients tell me that they met with an attorney who quoted them a fee to do the trial in their case before seeing any of the evidence. This makes no sense and is a situation ripe for problems. Defending a DUI case and deciding whether a plea bargain is the right thing to do is a step-by-step process that must be approached with common sense and experience in what it takes to win a DUI case.
How You Decide the Target Crime in a Plea Deal in a DUI Case
If the decision is made to make a deal, then the next consideration is the target crime to try and convince the prosecutor and judge to give you. The target crime will be based on what you did and the seriousness level of your case related to other DUI cases that are dealt with in the courthouse your case is pending.
Having defended thousands of DUI cases over the last 25 years, I can tell you that the biggest concern for judges and prosecutors is how dangerous you were out on the road and what they need to do to prevent you from hurting anyone in the future.
Whether an attorney tries to get the prosecutors to drop the case to a “wet reckless, “a speed contest or even a moving violation depends on several factors and is something that will be primarily dictated by the facts of your case and your attorney's abilities in the courthouse where you claims is pending. The less dangerous your actions were to society, the better chance your attorney will have to negotiate a plea deal for you that you can live with.
Another consideration is where your DUI falls on the sliding scale related to DUI cases in the particular courthouse where your case is pending. On the high end of the spectrum are issues where the defendant blew a very high blood alcohol level and engaged in dangerous behavior to society.
On the other end of the sliding scale are those defendants that did not blow a very high level and did not engage in dangerous behavior. Then, of course, some fall in the middle of these two extremes. This is where the best DUI defense attorneys earn their money and achieve the best possible resolution for their clients in the plea bargaining situation.
It is my goal in these DUI plea bargaining situations to flush out all of the positive arguments for my client in the beginning and then use the ideas most effectively with the prosecutor and the judge to convince them to give you the lowest common denominator on your DUI case and get you out of the system as quick as humanly possible.