When you’re convicted of a DUI in California, you face repercussions that will affect you for years to come. Even for the least serious DUI charges, you will be ordered to pay thousands of dollars in fines, face years of probation, and very well could spend time in jail. It doesn’t end there either. The conviction will be on your record for years to come, impacting your ability to get jobs and even to drive.
When you plead guilty to a DUI offense without a lawyer, you are leaving the potential penalties you face entirely up to the judge and prosecution. Neither of these parties will have your best interest at heart and are not likely to take any mitigating factors into consideration. Even if you feel guilty about your actions, the penalties you face when you plead guilty without a lawyer may be more severe than what someone who hires a DUI lawyer will get.
Entering a Guilty Plea without a Lawyer
When you arraigned, you will have the option to plead not guilty or guilty to the judge. If you plead not guilty, the judge will set a trial date. If you opt to plead guilty, the judge will instead move your case to sentencing.
Even if you plead not guilty, you have the chance to change your plea before the trial. Prosecutors can attempt to persuade you to accept a guilty plea and may feel more inclined to push you in that direction if you are representing yourself. It is a better outcome for the prosecutor if you plead guilty before a trial starts.
Once you’ve pled guilty, you’ve publicly accepted your responsibility for the crime. The judge will determine the specific penalties you face, based on the unchallenged facts that the prosecutor has presented. These penalties might include:
- Jail time
- License suspension
- Court-assessed fees and fines
- Installing an ignition interlock device
The extent to which you receive these punishments will be largely determined by what evidence the prosecutor puts before the judge. The prosecutor has no legal obligation to speak up for your best interests and the presentation of facts will not put you in the best light. Where the judge has discretion in sentencing, it would be fair to assume that you’ll receive a penalty at the upper range of what’s possible.
How a California DUI Attorney Can Help You
When you hire an attorney to represent you, you are choosing to have a passionate advocate there to help you at every step of the process. No matter how you feel about your actions, you deserve to make sure the system treats you fairly.
It is the job of your DUI attorney to critically examine the prosecutor’s case. Even the most experienced prosecutor and the police officer can make mistakes during the process. Details can be forgotten, or assumptions may be made that aren’t founded on available evidence. Sometimes, prosecutors will seek to include evidence that is inadmissible.
Even if you’re set on pleading guilty, having an attorney evaluating the available evidence and negotiating on your behalf will likely result in you facing either less harsh penalties or even reduced. Rather than facing the higher range of penalties, having an attorney advocating on your behalf can result in you much less harsh penalties.
Alternatives to a DUI charge
There are some charges in California that you cannot be charged with initially, but that you may be able to plead to during the lead up to your trial. For a DUI charge, your may lawyer may negotiate to plead guilty to one of the following charges:
- “Wet” reckless driving
- “Dry” reckless driving
Both these charges come with far less serious penalties than a standard DUI charge and will not affect your driving record in the same way. However, a “wet” reckless driving charge does have a potential drawback. If you get charged with a DUI in the future, the “wet” reckless driving conviction will count as a DUI for any penalties you face for the new offense.
Don’t Plead Guilty to a DUI in California without a Lawyer
No matter how good of a deal a prosecutor may offer you on your own, you are not likely to receive a fair penalty for your actions. Everyone makes mistakes and pleading guilty means that you don’t have the chance to explain your actions. This will come back to haunt you for years to come.
Instead, call (310) 971-9045 or one of the forms on this website to schedule your free consultation with a Los Angeles DUI attorney. We’ll connect you with a leading lawyer who has years of experience negotiating deals on behalf of clients just like you. They will evaluate your case for free and let you know what you can gain by having someone fighting for you.