Were you arrested for
driving under the influence (DUI) in Orange County? While you may not know what to expect from here
on out, you can expect one thing: the prosecutor will likely approach
you to “make a deal.” By deal, we mean plea deal.
With a plea deal, the prosecutor asks you to plead guilty to a specific
offense. In return, the prosecutor makes concessions of his or her own,
such as lighter penalties and sentencing. Sounds reasonable, but it’s
not straightforward. Just because a deal is offered, it doesn’t
mean the defendant should take whatever’s on the table.
What Every Defendant Should Know
The facts of DUI cases vary widely; for example, one case may involve a high
blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and an
injuries, whereas another case may be a first-time DUI offense involving borderline
BAC, around .08% – the legal limit in California. Negotiations would
be VERY different in these two cases.
Plea deals can be excellent tools for the defense because they provide
the opportunity to negotiate a deal that is mutually beneficial, especially
when the cards are stacked against a defendant. For example, in a simple,
first-time DUI case where the BAC was close to .08%, the DUI defense attorney
may seek a “wet reckless” plea deal, which involves lighter
penalties than a standard DUI.
Common DUI plea deals, include:
- Pleading guilty to a less serious offense.
- Accepting a sentence with less fines and no license suspension.
- Dismissing the charges, in exchange for pleading guilty to another offense.
Plea deals can be offered by either side (the prosecution or the defense),
it’s just a matter of whether an agreement is reached. If the odds
are stacked against a client, we can approach the prosecutor and attempt
to work out a deal. These negotiations can be formal; for example, during
a “pretrial” or “settlement” conference in the
judge’s chambers, or they can be informal and sometimes conducted by phone.
It’s All About Compromise
The prosecutor isn’t required to make a deal. However, prosecutors are
motivated to keep court calendars less clogged, and to save court expenses. Essentially,
the stronger the case against a defendant, the more he or she benefits
from a negotiated plea. This is where defense council has to balance the
client’s desires against the prosecutor’s. While compromise
can be beneficial, don’t mistake this for weakness. We don’t
believe in being bullied by a prosecutor into accepting a bad deal.
While the outcome of plea negotiations relies on the facts of the case,
the skill of your attorney, and the prosecutor, whatever you do, don’t
admit guilt to a police officer or the prosecutor before the deal is sealed,
and don’t reveal your defense strategies. If you do, it’ll
come back to haunt you in court.
Once a deal has been made, you and the prosecutor appear before the judge;
this is where the prosecutor explains the details of the agreement. Judges
usually accept plea deals, but if the judge doesn’t, we can ask
to withdraw the plea and proceed to trial.
For a hard-hitting DUI defense in Orange County,
the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc. and set up your free consultation.