Many people who are charged for DUI in New York are unfamiliar with the court system and how plea deals work. It’s important that you understand the benefits and drawbacks of taking a plea deal in your case so that you can make a beneficial decision.
When you accept a plea deal, you are essentially pleading guilty to one or multiple charges. However, it’s called a “deal” because your charges have been reduced in severity, and your potential sentence has been made lighter. If you are initially charged with a felony DUI, for example, a plea deal may allow you to plead guilty to a misdemeanor count instead.
There are clear benefits to accepting a plea deal, including the likelihood of a lighter sentence and a less severe charge on your criminal record. However, a plea deal does not give you the opportunity to prove your innocence and potentially have your DUI charge dropped completely.
Going to trial
If you were falsely accused of DUI or prosecutors have very little evidence to convict you of DUI, it may be smarter for you to go to trial than to accept a plea deal. While there is always a risk in going to trial, the potential benefit to you is a clean criminal record. It’s vital that you be confident in your chances of winning your case before you decide to plead innocent.
Is there a time limit to reach a plea bargain?
The criminal justice system is designed to reward people who take plea bargains, partially because the system does not have enough resources or time to take every defendant’s case all the way to trial. If you decide to plead innocent, the court will likely pressure you to resolve your case through a plea bargain right up to your scheduled court date. At any point before your trial, you could potentially accept a plea deal. However, prosecutors may sometimes put a time limit on an offer. Discussing a potential plea deal with your defense attorney may help you decide if you should take it.