Plea bargains are relative common throughout the United States. They make it possible to keep the number of cases before the courts at a level that they can handle. By offering plea deals, prosecutors are able to focus their time and energy on the most serious matters before them. Therefore, there is a chance that you could receive a plea deal in your DUI case.
What Is a Plea Agreement?
A plea agreement is basically a contract between the prosecutor and the defendant. In exchange for a guilty plea, the prosecutor offers to reduce or drop charges. It may also be possible to receive a guarantee that you will get the minimum amount of jail time mandated by the law. Depending on the terms of the plea, you may need to abide by certain stipulations such as refraining from alcohol or using the internet.
Does Double Jeopardy Still Apply?
After a plea agreement has been entered, the case has been considered resolved. In a criminal matter, an individual cannot be tried on the same charge in the same case more than once. This is true regardless of whether or not an individual has received a light sentence or one that is less than what could have been sought at trial.
Why Should a Defendant Accept a Plea?
One of the best reasons for a person to accept a plea is that an individual knows exactly what type of penalties he or she may face in exchange for a guilty plea. In some cases, it may be possible to avoid jail time or other serious consequences by accepting a plea deal. While an individual has the right to go to trial, a loss could result in decades spent in prison.
Why Do Prosecutors Offer Plea Deals?
Prosecutors offer plea deals because it counts as a victory for them in the eyes of the law. Therefore, they can tell the public that they got a conviction in a case that put a potentially dangerous person in jail. It may also be a way to help prosecutors deal with nonviolent offenders in a sensible manner. For instance, someone caught with a small amount of marijuana may not be a threat to society. Therefore, offering that person a chance to enter a diversion program may be easier than wasting resources on a trial.
Do You Have to Accept a Plea Deal?
Just because a plea deal is offered does not mean that you need to accept it. However, it is possible that the offer will be revoked at some point. In some cases, plea deals are offered as a way to end a case as quickly as possible. These types of deals may not be in an individual’s best interest. This may be especially true if the prosecution doesn’t have enough evidence for its case to stick.
Your attorney will be able to help you determine if a plea is worth taking or if it is preferable to go to trial. It may be possible to change your mind about a plea deal after accepting it. Typically, a judge will ask if you understand the terms of the plea and if you have accepted it of your own free will. This gives an individual one final chance to back out before its terms become binding on all parties.
What Happens if the Terms of the Deal Are Violated?
In the event that the terms of a plea deal are violated, penalties may apply depending on the severity of the violation. For instance, if a person contacts his or her victim, that may result in probation or a suspended sentence turning into jail or prison time.
However, if a person missed curfew by a few minutes one time, it is unlikely that a prosecutor would ask for additional penalties. In the event that the prosecution violated the terms of the deal, an individual may have some or all charges dismissed. It may also be grounds for a civil suit against the jurisdiction where the violation occurred.
Those who have been charged with DUI may benefit from asking for and accepting a plea deal. Doing so may put an end to legal action in a timely manner, which may save money on legal fees. It may also allow a person to avoid going to jail, which could have a significant impact on his or her life.