If you watch crime shows on television, you’re probably familiar with the concept of the plea deal. It’s an agreement between the prosecution and the defense. The defendant agrees to plead guilty or no contest in exchange for reduced charges or a reduced sentence. TV shows make it look so simple that you may think you can negotiate such a deal on your own. However, you’re unlikely to do so successfully if you have no legal training and don’t understand the legal system.
Being charged with driving under the influence creates a serious situation. In Georgia, the penalties for impaired driving are harsh, even for first-time offenders. They become even more severe with each subsequent offense. Penalties for your first DUI conviction include:
- Jail time of up to 12 months
- Fines of up to $1,000
- Driver’s license suspension of up to 12 months
- Community service
- Drug and alcohol evaluation and treatment if necessary
- DUI school
To compound matters, a DUI stays on your record forever. It can follow you throughout your life and make you ineligible for certain jobs or professions. While your situation may seem overwhelming, you’ll find that the courts are often willing to enter plea bargains. In fact, the majority of criminal cases in the United States come to a resolution through plea bargaining. For many people accused of a DUI, the lesser charge of reckless driving is preferable.
Things You Need to Know About Plea Bargaining
Law enforcement officers make thousands of DUI arrests in Atlanta each year. Not all cases can be handled expeditiously via trial. Prosecutors are, therefore, willing to accept plea bargains in some cases. If your blood alcohol content was not significantly over the legal limit and there are no aggravating factors, you may be eligible.
Depending on the circumstances, the prosecution may take jail time off the table or reduce it considerably. They may also reduce the length of time for which your driver’s license is suspended and other penalties may be lowered. However, you need to have a competent, experienced DUI defense attorney in Atlanta, Georgia on your side. Otherwise, you’ll be at the mercy of the prosecution.
That’s because the state does not offer plea deals automatically. Usually, your attorney will need to display a certain level of aggression to secure the best deal on your behalf. It’s, therefore, important to find a top-notch DUI lawyer as soon as possible after your arrest. The most successful defense attorneys look for every possible way to defend their clients. Sometimes, going to trial is the best option. However, a plea bargain is preferred at other times.
Plea agreements can be either negotiated on non-negotiated. In a negotiated plea, the defense and prosecution agree on the crime to which the defendant will admit. They also agree on the punishment they will receive. The non-negotiated plea can be entered if the accused wants to avoid trial but doesn’t agree with the recommended sentence. Your attorney will explain this in further detail in relation to your specific case.
Cons of Plea Bargaining
While it may seem like a plea bargain is the easy way out, this is not the case. This type of arrangement isn’t ideal for everyone. When you enter a plea deal, you automatically surrender some of your constitutional rights. For example, you waive the right to a jury trial, the right to avoid self-incrimination and the right to confront witnesses. Not every accused person will be okay with giving up these rights. Also, even if you and the prosecution agree to a deal, a judge can either approve or deny it. There is no room for an appeal, so you’ll have to live with whatever the judge decides.
Contact an Attorney to Assist You with Your Case
If you think a plea bargain may be in your best interest, we’ll help you to evaluate your options. You’ll need to move quickly so it’s important that you contact us as soon as possible. A plea bargain is not right for every client, so we’ll provide you with all the facts. That way, you can make an informed decision. You need a defense law firm in Atlanta, GA that is committed to achieving the best result possible. If a trial will give you the best outcome, we’ll head to court. However, if a plea bargain is in your best interests, we’ll negotiate on your behalf. Schedule your consultation today!