Being charged with a crime in the D.C. and Virginia metro area, regardless of whether it is a driving under the influence (DUI) offense or another type of crime, is scary. The prospects of going to trial and being convicted are scarier. That's why, when a defendant is offered a plea deal by the prosecutor, the defendant sometimes is ready to hop onto the deal without giving it much a second thought.
And that's also what the prosecutor hopes. Your first offer may or may not be to your benefit, so reviewing the offer with an experienced criminal defense or DUI / DWI lawyer is critical to making an informed decision. Here are a few considerations to help you determine if the plea deal is right for you.
- What does a successful outcome look like to you? Or, what outcome could you live with? You may hope for no jail time but wouldn't care if you were offered probation. You may hope for an acquittal and no criminal record – because the latter carries serious collateral consequences. It is important to understand what outcome you want for your case.
- How viable is your defense? You may be innocent but the evidence still points in your direction, so how viable is it the attorney will be Abel to convince a judge or jury? Is the evidence sufficient to convict or insufficient that an acquittal is quite likely?
- How strong is the evidence against you? You are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Each crime has a set of elements and each one must be satisfied or proven. If one element is not present, then a jury cannot render a guilty verdict.
- Is the plea deal do-able? In other words, can you live up to your end of the bargain? For example, maybe you won't be able to afford the fees associated with probation. Failure to fulfill all the terms and conditions could mean the termination of the plea deal. Termination of the plea deal could mean a harsher sentence than if you had fought the charge via trial.
- What does your attorney say? If your attorney has experience with plea bargaining, then he will have a sound analysis that reflects whether or not the plea deal is do-able, viable, and in your favor. Always listen to the advice of a trusted lawyer to make an informed decision about a plea deal that can change your life.
A few more considerations are worth mentioning here:
- A plea deal – and what it entails – is at the discretion of the prosecutor. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney who can communicate and negotiate the plea deal to your benefit will be key.
- The judge must approve the plea deal. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney can mean the difference between a plea deal surviving a judge's review.
- The plea deal can be terminated. A resourceful criminal defense attorney will negotiate a plea deal that you should be able to abide by. He will also walk you through the deal to ensure you thoroughly understand and accept it.
If you have been charged with a DUI or another criminal offense in the Virginia and DC metro area, contact an experienced, resourceful, and trusted attorney to help make sure any plea deal offered to you is one you should accept (or not accept).