It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the heat and tumult of the DUI arrest but you should act with caution and take the right steps without exposing yourself to bullying or intimidation or any aggressive and rule defying effort to secure a conviction. Soon enough the prosecution will be approaching your attorney with a plea offer, a way out of the DUI quagmire, if you confess to the crime and agree to a guilty plea. Here we give you special insights into the plea bargaining process to help you navigate this legal maze.
The plea bargain need not be all about the prosecution walking away with the trophy of your guilty plea while you get punished all the same. It should be a negotiated settlement that satisfies both parties. You should be pleading guilty only when the offense is not as serious as the charge you were originally facing. Some or all other charges should be dismissed in exchange for the guilty plea you agree to. You could agree to sentencing where stiffer fines and license suspension are not part of the deal.
The pre-trial motions, settings and conferences offer ample scope for entertaining the plea bargain. Either the prosecution or the defense can initiate the plea bargain. Meetings could be formal or informal, either mandated or unstructured but they will involve both the parties and yourself or the defense counsel acting on your behalf.
As far as the prosecution is concerned the overwhelming desire is to wind up proceedings avoiding a lengthy trial, saving the court valuable money and precious time that could be legitimately diverted to more important cases. For the defense there is the client’s reputation at stake. It is not for the defense to adopt a holier than thou attitude in demanding a plea bargain. Rather, both parties have to compromise so that the accused walks away with a lighter punishment by pleading guilty to charges that are not as tough as the case affidavit originally listed. The attorney’s skill plays an important role in striking a fine balance between the prosecution’s wants and the defendant’s needs.
Often the prosecution might adopt bullying or intimidation tactics and force a “take it or leave it” plea bargain that would be less of a bargain for the defendant. In such situations the right response is to say no politely and prepare for the long haul. Sometimes a refusal to play ball makes the prosecution tone down an offensive strategy. The experienced lawyer skilled in negotiations can get a better deal for the defendant in a plea bargain ensuring that fundamental rights are not compromised.
The practiced attorney never reveals his ace card when he negotiates a plea bargain, and waits for the prosecution to respond to the basic offer. Very often the prosecution games the negotiation deal to unearth the defense strategy, but the experienced attorney will keep them guessing all the time.
Believing that truth will ultimately set you free is a technique that doesn’t resonate very well in police custody because anything that you say could incriminate you in court. Admitting guilt is not an option when you are incarcerated. Police and prosecution are well versed in the art of deception and in eliciting responses through a well-placed lie. One has to be extremely cautious in responding to queries that seem innocent at first but carry dreadful consequences if replied nonchalantly. After friendly banter the question posed could be “what’s the brand you were drinking? Something very special, no doubt?” The proper response is “sorry, I don’t know what you are talking about? I don’t recollect being anywhere near spirits, good or bad”. An admission of guilt or even the faintest hint of guilt should never be a part of your response.
If the trial day has dawned and the prosecution is unable to present the police officer, the case usually gets dismissed, and prosecution sometimes acknowledging the situation might try to strike a plea bargain before trial commences. In such cases it is better to refrain from responding till it is ensured that the police office is attending the hearing.
The plea bargain is not a cozy arrangement between prosecutor and the defense attorney that is hushed up and secretive. After the verbal negotiations are completed and the bargain is fleshed out, the prosecutor explains the arrangement before a judge. It is important to understand that the judge doesn’t have to agree to the plea and the judge might set his own terms and conditions that could be tougher than what the prosecution agrees to, though such instances are rare.
When you are arrested and produced before a court to formally charge you with a DUI or DWI offense it is normally during the arraignment that you will be posed the question whether you plead guilty or non-guilty. It is a momentous plea that could transform your life. Pleading guilty has its consequences but it requires the guidance of a skilled criminal defense lawyer to handle the legal complications that the plea bargain involves. Entering plea negotiations without a trained lawyer is like sailing rough seas without a navigational compass.