After you’ve been arrested for a crime, you’re likely going to have time to discuss the charges with the prosecution. Much like in movies and TV shows, the prosecutor is probably going to talk about making things easier for everyone by having you agree to a plea bargain. This proposition may leave you wondering if plea bargains work.
The truth is that plea bargains, particularly those that are accepted right away, tend to benefit the prosecution and the criminal justice system as a whole. The prosecution gets a conviction and avoids having to conduct a trial.
These initial plea bargains often don’t give defendants terms that are better than they would receive from a conviction at trial. At best, you avoid the headache of waiting for your trial.
However, plea bargains in DUI cases can work very well for defendants, but the best results may only be possible with a skilled lawyer at your side. If you’d like to speak with an experienced DUI lawyer for free about your charges, call us today at (310) 862-0199.
Why Plea Bargains Are Common
According to the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), only 2% of felony cases ever go to trial in California. In more than 80% of the cases that do go to trial, the prosecution ends up getting the conviction they wanted.
However, the criminal justice system is overloaded. While prosecutors are likely to prevail at trial, it can be a heavy cost in time and money to get a conviction. Plea bargains serve to get a conviction without the strain on the system by expediting the result.
Types of Plea Bargains for DUI Cases
Plea bargains typically require defendants to enter a guilty or no contest plea to the initial charge, but not always. Particularly with DUI cases in California, you may have a variety of charges available to you during the negotiations with the prosecution.
If you are arrested for a DUI, the prosecution is likely to push you towards agreeing to a plea bargain for the charge. Depending on the evidence and how strong your defense looks, they may not offer much in the terms of concessions.
However, the unique factors of your case and your defense can affect what you ultimately get out of a plea to DUI. You may be able to reduce or eliminate jail time, payout less money in penalties, or get your license back earlier than normal. You may also be able to reduce the penalties of the charge by agreeing to a “simple” DUI, rather than one with aggravating factors like damage to property or refusing a chemical test.
A wet reckless is a lesser charge that can only be obtained through a plea bargain. It is a lesser charge than a DUI, which means that it comes with less severe penalties. Compared to a DUI, a wet reckless conviction comes with less jail time, smaller fines, and no mandatory license suspension from the court.
While the penalties for a wet reckless charge are less harsh than a DUI, it does count as a DUI for the purposes of later charges. DUIs are “priorable” offenses in California, meaning that past convictions call for enhanced sentences. The more DUIs or wet reckless convictions you have on your record, the worse the penalties you face.
In the context of a DUI arrest, a reckless driving conviction under California Vehicle Code 23103 is called a dry reckless conviction. It comes with a smaller fee and no mandatory jail time or license suspension. The charge does add 2 points on to your license, which can impact what you in insurance, but it is typically less severe than having a DUI on your record.
How A DUI Lawyer Helps Improve Your Plea Bargain
While there are a variety of options to resolve your DUI case, what you can actually get depends on how well you negotiate with the prosecution. On your own, the prosecutor might offer you the maximum possible punishment for the charge and refuse to negotiate with a lesser penalty or charge.
Having a DUI lawyer by your side improves your negotiating position. When you hire a DUI lawyer, they evaluate the case against you for any potential weaknesses. The weaker the case against you, the less likely the prosecution is to get a conviction at trial. As the likelihood of the prosecution winning at trial decreases, the more likely you are to get a better plea bargain.
When you hire a DUI lawyer, they will:
- Check to see how close your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is to the legal limit
- If the officer had probable cause to initiate the arrest
- Evaluate how the chemical test was administered
- Look for potential alternative explanations for a high BAC, such as health condition or a rising BAC
Any of these factors can substantially impact the prosecution’s ability to secure a conviction. Your lawyer will use this information to get you a better charge, making the plea bargain work in your favor.
Call (310) 862-0199 today to arrange a meeting with a leading DUI lawyer about your case. The initial evaluation is completely free of charge to you.