Although every DUI case has the potential to go to trial, most are resolved through plea bargains. There are many factors that help determine the best way to proceed with a case, but ultimately, it is up to the defendant to choose whether to bring the case before a judge or jury or accept a plea bargain.
DUI Trials and Plea Bargains
More than 98 percent of defendants settle for plea bargains that eliminate the time, expense, and uncertainty of a jury trial. A plea bargain is an arrangement made between the prosecutor and the defense attorney that the defendant will plead guilty or no contest in exchange for a reduced sentence. If a plea bargain is accepted by the defendant, the penalty for the DUI offense is agreed upon by all parties.
Once the defendant pleads guilty to the DUI charge, there is no jury trial. A conviction results and guilt is established immediately. The conviction will show up on the defendant’s record, and he/she will face appropriate penalties for the DUI offense. Prosecutors often negotiate plea bargains rather than going to trial. Plea deals benefit the court system by reducing court costs and providing fast resolutions to the case. However, the defendant is deprived of his/her chance of getting a not guilty verdict through a jury trial. In addition, cases that involve plea deals are difficult to reopen if a new trial is requested. Most prosecutors fight to uphold plea deal convictions.
Accepting a Plea Bargain
In many DUI cases, a plea bargain is the best option, especially if there is overwhelming evidence of the defendant’s guilt. While a DUI attorney will provide criminal defense, there’s still a chance that the defendant may be found guilty by a jury and sentenced to harsher penalties. A plea bargain allows the defense attorney to negotiate either a lesser charge, a reduced sentence, or both.
Before a case goes to trial, a settlement conference will be set to discuss a plea bargain agreement. It’s essential that the DUI attorney handling the defense explains the pros and cons of accepting a plea bargain. In most cases, if the DUI case goes to trial and the defendant loses his/her case, the judge can impose the maximum penalty. A Minnesota DUI conviction can result in large monetary fines, loss of driving privileges, and jail time.