If you are arrested for DUI in California, you will come under heavy pressure to plead guilty. In most cases it is not a good idea, and it is never a good idea unless an experienced DUI lawyer advises you to do it.
Let’s look at the reasons people are pressured to enter a guilty plea, why a lawyer would advise you to do it, and when it might be worth it.
Three Sources of Pressure to Plead “Guilty”
There are three people who will push you to enter a guilty plea:
- The prosecutor. Shortly after you arrest you’ll be visited by the prosecutor. They may not use this word. They may say they are “an attorney from the District Attorney’s office.” This means they’re working against you. No matter how friendly or sympathetic a prosecutor acts, they are not on your side. All they want to do is get you convicted as quickly and cheaply as possible.
Sooner or later the prosecutor will offer you a deal. They’ll tell you how bad the “normal” DUI sentence is, and then they’ll describe the “offer” they can make you. This offer will sound better. It might have less jail time or an offer of turning jail time into community service. But if you were a lawyer, you’d know it’s not much different from a standard DUI sentence. They’re asking you to give up and let them win.
You should never, ever take a “deal” from a prosecutor without talking to a good defense lawyer first.
- Your court-appointed lawyer. Depending on your income you may be given a free lawyer by the court. What you should know about this individual is they want to help you, but they do not have the time or resources that a dedicated DUI lawyer would have. You may notice that they only have 10 or 15 minutes to meet with you, that they seem confused about your case, or that they seem to know nothing about your arrest until they open up your file in front of you. Public defenders are good lawyers, but all too often they don’t have what they need.
The result is that they will tell you to take the first deal the prosecutor offers. They say it will cost you less than fighting it, and it will get you out of jail sooner. They aren’t lying to you—but they also aren’t doing what a DUI defense lawyer does. A DUI defense lawyer will line up all the evidence against you, poke holes in it and try to get it excluded from the case. A DUI lawyer might suggest you take a “deal,” but only after they’ve negotiated the absolute best deal available. A court-appointed lawyer usually won’t do this.
- Your own conscience. You may feel guilty after your arrest—especially if your DUI involved an accident. You may want to avoid a court trial and just get the whole thing over with. Your conscience will flare up and make you want to just plead guilty. Don’t do it.
The DUI system in California is not fair. If you know you had some drinks before you drove, and the price was a ticket or a reasonable punishment, pleading guilty might make sense. The reality is that DUI consequences have been driven through the roof. A DUI conviction today may still have effects on your life in five, ten or even 20 years. It may hurt your career, leave you unable to drive, and permanently affect your future. It will definitely cost you far more than fits the crime.
A DUI is an honest mistake. Don’t jump into a decision you’ll regret.
Will a DUI Lawyer Ever Tell You to Plead Guilty?
The one person you can truly trust in the legal system is your own private DUI lawyer. This person has the resources that a court-appointed lawyer lacks, and they’re on your side. The first thing they’ll tell you is not to accept a “guilty” deal.
Then they’ll go to work for you. They can often turn around even very tough cases. They cannot promise to win—but they can often get rid of jail time, steep fines, and excessive penalties. They may be able to reduce the charge to something less than DUI. They might get it dropped. Or they might outright win for you. They will bring you the best result possible.
Sometimes, after they have done all this work, they’ll advise you to plead guilty to a new deal. Take a look at this deal—it’s probably a lot better than what the prosecutor first offered you. Often, it’s no longer even a DUI charge. If you have a lawyer you can trust, and they’ve worked hard for you, then there might be a reason to plead guilty. Or, they might get you free and clear of all charges.
Don’t take risks with your future. We can connect you with a local Los Angeles DUI lawyer who offers a FREE consultation. Fill out the form to the right or call (310) 862-0199 and get your free consultation today.