If you’re convicted on drunk driving charges, then the penalties thrust upon you can be quite significant. This is especially true if this is not your first drunk driving charge. In these instances, you might end up facing the very real possibility of jail time, fines, lengthy license suspension, and even the mandatory use of an ignition interlock device. With the maximum penalties being pretty forceful, you might find yourself wondering if a plea deal is your best option.
Is a plea deal right for you?
The vast majority of criminal cases, including drunk driving cases, resolve one way or another prior to trial. In many instances, prosecutors offer plea deals that are accepted because the penalties are less significant than they could be if the matter goes to trial and results in a conviction. But is a plea deal right for you? It really depends, but to help you better decide you might want to consider the following matters:
- The strength of the prosecution’s case and your defense: This seems obvious, but you’ll want to meticulously comb through every detail of the prosecution’s case. Are there evidentiary holes, such as bad chain of custody? Or can witness credibility be drawn into question? The answers to questions like these and others can help you better gauge the strength of the prosecution’s case. This, in turn, can help you better determine if a plea deal is in your best interests.
- The terms of the offer itself: Some plea deals are so watered down that there really isn’t much to risk by going to trial. So, learn more about what potential penalties you could face and compare those to the penalties offered in the plea deal. That information, in conjunction with your assessment of the evidence, can go a long way toward making a decision.
- Your aversion to risk: Taking any criminal case to trial can be tricky, especially if there’s a jury involved. Judges and juries can be unpredictable, which can throw a wildcard into the equation. If you’re comfortable in the strength of your case and/or can’t see the benefit of taking a plea deal, then going to trial may be your best option.
Don’t let overzealous prosecutors push you around
Prosecutors see DUI cases all the time. As a result, they often think that they can just throw their weight around and obtain a conviction without little effort. Don’t fall over for them. Put up the fight that you need to protect your interests as fully as possible.