When Is It Too Late For A DUI Plea Bargain?

The DUI process moves quickly after an arrest. It is important to understand your options in the process. If you are considering taking a plea bargain read on to find out when is the best time to accept for your criminal case.

What is a plea bargain?

A plea bargain is another term for an agreement between the defendant and the prosecutor. The terms of the agreement require the defendant to plead “not guilty” in exchange for a negotiated alternative to undergoing a jury trial. Typically, the plea bargain involves:

  • A lesser charge
  • A lighter sentence

When should you accept a plea bargain?

Depending on the circumstances of your case, a plea bargain may be a no brainer. However, there is some strategy to accepting a plea bargain. Too many people accept a plea bargain without realizing that there could be more advantageous options available.

So, how do you know when you should accept a plea bargain? The first plan of action should be to talk to your attorney. If you don’t have an attorney during the DUI process, you should definitely consider getting one. An attorney who is familiar with the DUI criminal process will know whether the deal you are being offered is a favorable one or not.

Additionally, an attorney can look at the weight of the evidence that is against you to determine whether the charges could potentially be dropped or lessened. Your defense attorney could cause the prosecution to realize that their case doesn’t have all of the elements to make a strong case against you, causing the prosecutors to offer a better deal. It is important to understand that prosecutors are paid to get convictions, so having an experienced attorney fighting for your rights is essential. There are many different strategies to take in the plea bargain process, and a skilled attorney can help map out the best course of action.

Is it really a bargain?

Usually the first offer from the prosecution is not very favorable. In fact, it may not even be a “bargain.” Both prosecutors and public defenders are charged with moving cases through the justice system as quickly as possible and the plea bargains offered are not always your best option. They know that given your situation, it is easy to leap at the first bargain offered. This is why it is important to have a private attorney who is motivated to fight for your best interests.

What are the advantages of a plea bargain?

The plea bargain is generally a favorable option for both the defendant and the prosecution. For most defendants getting a lesser charge or a lighter sentence is a better option than going to trial with the possibility of getting convicted of every charge to the fullest extent. In fact, most criminal cases are settled with a plea bargain. Let’s take a look at some of the advantages of a plea bargain on both sides.

A conviction is guaranteed

Prosecutors get paid to secure convictions. With a plea bargain, not only does the defendant get a deal that can put them in a better situation, but the prosecutor also gets a guaranteed conviction. By going to trial there is always the chance that the jury will find the defendant not guilty. This is why plea bargains are very common, because each side benefits. The defendant will still have a penalty that can still bring a measure of justice that may have not been otherwise.

It brings the cost of trial down

The cost of trial can be very expensive. Now a DUI case may not be as expensive as a drug case, but the fact is every case that goes to trial costs money. For example, the O.J. Simpson trial went on for 135 days, was televised, and the prosecution costs alone was over 9 million dollars.

It reduces jail populations

Because of high crime, Pennsylvania jails are known for overcrowding, so much that at one point they were shipping inmates to other states. However, that practice has been on a downward trend in the last few years as the numbers of inmates are dropping. Part of this downward trend is due to plea bargains. With plea bargains moving cases through the justice system much faster, jails have become less crowded than in the past.

What are the disadvantages of a DUI plea bargain?

While there are many advantages to a plea bargain, there are also some disadvantages that should be noted. Let’s take a look at the negative impacts of plea bargains.

It eliminates the right to trial by jury

The US constitution gives everyone the right to a trial by jury. However, the plea bargain acts as a workaround to this amendment. There may be cases where the plea bargain is seen as a coercive way to eliminate that right. Every defendant should have the option and right to go to trial for the plea bargain to be effective.

The plea bargain may lead to insufficient investigation processes

Because the majority of criminal cases are settled by plea bargain, there could be an argument presented that investigatory processes are impacted. Time may not be spent on investigating evidence because the expected outcome of the case is for the accused to plea out. Instead of obtaining justice, the goal is to secure a deal.

A criminal record is created for the innocent and no real justice is served

When an innocent person is charged with a crime, it can be devastating. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the crime, it may be in their best interest to take a plea deal, even if they were not at fault. There are many reasons why an innocent person would accept a plea deal, but in the end, there is not real justice.

Being charged with any criminal charge is a scary situation. That is why you need to make smart decisions when going through the process. The decisions you make now can have an effect on your future. Talking with a private DUI attorney is key to knowing whether you should take that plea bargain or not. If you are looking for an experienced DUI attorney, contact the attorneys at DiCindio Law, LLC today.

Rule 600 in Pennsylvania

The wheels of justice turn slowly. An old saying that we who practice in the criminal defense field think about weekly – if not daily. Even though the slow crawl that criminal cases sometimes take is to be expected at times, it is important to understand that as an individual charged with a crime in the state of Pennsylvania, you have a right to a prompt trial and resolution to your case.

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First, it must be noted that the prompt trial rule or “Rule 600” is different than the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is the amount of time that the government has to CHARGE an individual with a crime or forever be barred from doing so. Rule 600 and the prompt trial requirements instead deal with the amount of time the government has to prosecute a person once they have been charged.

There are two main portions of Rule 600. First, that the government has 365 days to commence trial once charges have been brought. If they do not do that, a motion must be filed by the defense and the charges will be dismissed with prejudice if a violation of this time limit has been found by the Court. Second, no person may be held in custody on bail for longer than 180 from the commencement of the prosecution. If this occurs the defense must file a motion and if a violation is found by the Court the defendant will be placed on nominal bail.

Obviously, this is subject to limitations and the unique circumstances of each case dictate the strength of a Rule 600 motion. For example, one of the main limitations is that time extensions requested by the defense or not attributable to the prosecution are not counted in the 365 or 180 day time period – among other things.

If you or a loved one believe that you may have a prompt trial issue or if you have been charged with a criminal offense at all, contact Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. at DiCindio Law, LLC for all of your criminal needs and begin preparing your defense today.

 

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The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes to the law that may be relevant. The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments or the most complete legal issues for all cases These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. It is intended solely for informational purposes.

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. is a West Chester criminal defense lawyer and personal injury attorney who represents individuals accused of crimes or injured by the negligence of others throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale