June 8, 2021 | DUI
The vast majority of DUI cases in Kentucky do not go to trial. Only about 10 percent of criminal cases go to trial. A smaller percentage of charges are dismissed.
Plea bargains are by far the most common way that DUI cases are resolved in Kentucky. A plea bargain can help you avoid jail time and losing your driver’s license.
However, negotiating directly with the prosecutor may not be in your best interest. The prosecutor wants a conviction and a strong sentence to deter other individuals from driving under the influence. The prosecutor also wants to appear as tough on crime as possible and boost their reputation as a strong advocate for criminal justice.
Instead, you may want to consult with a DUI defense lawyer in Lexington. An OVI/DUI defense lawyer understands the potential defenses that could be used at trial, the strength of the evidence the prosecution has against you, and the weaknesses in your case. That information is valuable during negotiations for a plea deal.
Also, the prosecutor may take the negotiations for a plea deal more seriously if you are represented by an experienced, local DUI defense attorney. The prosecutor knows that if they do not offer a reasonable plea agreement, the lawyer may decide to go to trial. If that happens, the prosecutor could lose the case instead of obtaining a conviction.
Many factors impact plea negotiations on both sides. Having sound legal advice and someone to guide you through the process could mean the difference between a favorable plea agreement and jail for a lengthy period.
What is a Plea Bargain?
A plea bargain or plea deal is an agreement between the prosecutor and the defendant. The defendant agrees to plead guilty to some or all criminal charges, and the prosecutor agrees to a reduced sentence. In some cases, the prosecutor may reduce the charges against the defendant as part of the plea deal.
According to Kentucky Revised Statute §27A.420, all information relating to the original charges and the plea agreement’s terms must be disclosed. Thus, the law ensures that a judge has a complete view of the case instead of just the portion of the case resolved through the plea deal.
The judge decides sentencing and DUI penalties. The judge can change the terms of the plea deal. However, judges mainly accept the terms unless the proposed sentence does not fit the crime because of aggravating factors or other case-specific issues.
Guilty Plea vs. No-Contest Plea
Most plea agreements require the defendant to plead guilty to the charge or a lesser offense. Pleading guilty means that the defendant admits they committed the crime and are ready to accept responsibility for their actions.
The judge questions the defendant to ensure that the defendant has not been forced to plead guilty. The judge needs to ensure the defendant understands their right to a trial, the charges against them, and the consequences of pleading guilty.
A plea of no-contest is different from a guilty plea. When the defendant pleads no-contest, they are neither denying nor admitting that they committed the crime. They do not try to defend themselves against the DUI charges, but they accept the consequences as if they had pleaded guilty to the crime.
There are two reasons why a DUI defendant might want to negotiate a no-contest plea agreement. First, the defendant may not remember what happened because of the alcohol use. In that case, the defendant does not want to state under oath that they committed the crime.
Second, admitting to driving under the influence could impact a civil lawsuit against the defendant. If the defendant caused a car accident while driving under the influence, the accident victims might sue the drunk driver for damages. Pleading guilty to a DUI offense could give the defendant a claim of negligence per se.
Do Some DUI Cases Need to Go to Trial?
There are DUI cases that should go to trial. After reviewing your case, your criminal defense lawyer may advise you that the evidence against you is weak. You may have one or more DUI defenses that could result in a not guilty verdict or acquittal.
You need to carefully review the pros and cons of a plea deal versus going to court. Going to trial is not a guarantee of an acquittal, regardless of how weak the state’s case is against you. Depending on the deal, it may be better to accept than gamble on going to trial.
However, that decision should be made only after exploring all options for resolving your DUI ticket with your lawyer.
Contact the Cincinnati DUI Lawyers at Suhre & Associates, LLC For Help Today
Suhre & Associates, LLC – Cincinnati
600 Vine Street, Suite 1004
Cincinnati, OH 45202