Are Most DUI Cases Generally Settled With Plea Deals?
Approximately 90 to 95 percent of DUI cases result in plea deals. This is because in most cases, there are lawyers inexperienced in DUI defense, underwhelming investigations, or overwhelming evidence of impairment and therefore it appears at first blush impossible to get a not guilty verdict. Experienced DUI lawyers, who have been trained in DUI Field Sobriety tests and in the science of breath and blood testing can often find defenses that other lawyers simply or overlook or do not understand. Alternatively, the prosecution may offer the defendant a reduced charge after reviewing the evidence, the motions we file, and the weaknesses we point to in their case. We recommend in many cases after thorough investigations and review that a case should be taken to jury trial when we believe there is a strong likelihood of reasonable doubt which could result in a not guilty verdict after trial.
How Do You Advise Clients On Whether To Litigate A DUI Case Or Take A Plea Deal?
Every case is different, so the decision to take plea deal or litigate will depend on the facts and circumstances unique to a particular case. The best strategy is to carefully review the evidence, talk to witnesses, and examine the underlying data from the chemical test prior to making a decision. Oftentimes, we will hold a motion hearing to determine whether or not evidence can be restricted or suppressed for the trial of the case as well as to get a dry run on the evidence that will be presented at trial to a jury. This provides us with an idea of what a jury trial would look like in terms of evidence and potential for reasonable doubt which will allow us to intelligently weigh the pros and cons of trial with our clients.
The standard of proof in a criminal case is proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, which means we do not need to prove innocence; we must only show that the prosecution lacks sufficient evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Reason doubt is the difference between thinking someone is DUI and knowing they are DUI. If the juror thinks our client is DUI but does not know it, then the law requires a not guilty verdict. If we can show that there is reasonable doubt as to whether or not the defendant indeed committed the crime of DUI, then we should win the case.
Am I Risking Harsher Penalties By Taking A DUI Case To Trial Instead Of Pleading Out?
It’s definitely possible that taking a case to trial and losing could result in harsher penalties for the defendant. A risk-benefit analysis must be done, since going to trial allows for the possibility that the defendant is found not guilty. A defendant must contemplate the risk of short-term pain versus the lifelong consequences of a DUI conviction, while remembering that they have only one chance to fight a DUI and only one day in court; if they waive the opportunity, they will lose it forever. There are no second chances.