Were you offered a plea bargain after an arrest for driving under the influence (DUI) in California? In this situation, you may wonder about the purpose of a plea bargain. These deals are designed to end your criminal case. They require you to plead guilty or no contest to a lesser charge, and they could reduce the penalties you’re facing.
Plea bargains resolve many DUI cases in California. Find out more about how these deals work right here. Take time to consider other ways to handle DUI charges with this article.
Understanding Plea Bargains in the Court System
It’s important that you understand that most DUI charges in California don’t go to court. Instead, many of these charges are resolved with plea bargains. Plea bargains are deals specifically offered by the prosecution. Plea bargains have two major purposes. They help the prosecution secure a conviction while you will face reduced penalties.
Plea bargaining can be a great way to resolve your case. However, it is important to understand all the potential ramifications of accepting a deal. An experienced criminal defense attorney can go over any deal offered by the court and help you evaluate all the pros and cons. They can also help you attempt to negotiate for a better deal that works well for you.
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Benefits of a Plea Deal for the Prosecution
You agree to plead guilty or no contest in order to accept a plea bargain. This means that you are accepting a conviction for a criminal act. In this situation, the prosecution gets to close out its case without going all the way to court.
Prosecutors typically have very large caseloads. Resolving cases quickly is in their best interest. Even if they could potentially secure a harsher penalty at trial, they most often prefer the quick guaranteed victory.
Benefits of a Plea Deal for You
Plea bargains also provide you with reduced penalties in many cases. Plea bargains may reduce the fines you face and your jail time. In some cases, they could do away with jail time altogether and require you to stay on probation after a DUI arrest.
If you are able to negotiate the deal down to reckless driving, you will also avoid having a DUI conviction on your record. Doing this will help you greatly if you work in an industry that involves driving. It will also help if you face a DUI charge in the future, as prior charges increase the potential penalties.
Different Types of Plea Bargains
Plea bargaining can come in different forms. There are three primary types of plea bargaining. These are:
- Charge bargaining
- Sentence bargaining
- Fact bargaining
Charge bargaining is the type of plea bargain deal used most often. With charge bargaining, you are negotiating with the prosecution to plead guilty to a lesser charge, in exchange for the one you currently face being dropped.
In a DUI case, this could mean pleading guilty to a wet reckless or dry reckless charge in exchange for the DUI charge being dropped. You would then face the potential sentencing consequences of this lesser charge rather than those you would face if convicted of a DUI.
Sentence bargaining is also fairly common. The main difference between sentence and charge bargaining is that you will plead guilty to the original charge. However, like with charge bargaining, you will do so with an agreement that your sentence will be reduced.
When agreeing to plead guilty to a DUI, you could do so in exchange for receiving the minimum sentence allowed by that charge.
Fact bargaining is not a very common practice. It is only used in certain situations. With fact bargaining, a defendant agrees to admit to certain facts of their case in exchange for the prosecution not introducing other facts.
Fact bargaining is often more about how certain information will damage a person in other areas of their life than in the outcome of the current proceedings. There are many jurisdictions that prohibit fact bargaining.
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DUI Charges and “Wet” Reckless Plea Bargains
“Wet” reckless charges are commonly used for DUI plea bargains in California. In fact, wet reckless charges are specifically designed for use with DUI offenses. They are not stand-alone charges. You will face a wet reckless plea deal if the prosecution offers you charges under Vehicle Code §23103.5.
Wet reckless charges could result in up to 90 days of jail time in California. A DUI conviction could lead to six months of jail time. Wet reckless charges could also mean reduced fines. Additionally, you may not need to install an ignition interlock device (IID) if you accept a wet reckless plea bargain.
However, wet reckless charges are priorable. Priorable charges count against you if you face subsequent DUI charges in California. Wet reckless charges could remain on your driving record for years, increasing the penalties you face for additional DUI offenses.
“Dry” Reckless Plea Bargains and DUIs in California
A lawyer will help you get a “dry” reckless plea bargain in California. Dry reckless charges are not considered priorable. This makes dry reckless deals preferable to wet reckless plea bargains in many cases.
However, dry reckless charges are still criminal offenses. You may also hear dry reckless charges called “reckless driving.” A plea bargain for reckless driving could still result in fines and jail time. However, it’s more likely that you’ll face time on probation for a plea bargain.
A lawyer will review any plea bargain offered by the prosecution and work to get you a more favorable plea bargain after your arrest. You do not have to accept the first deal you are offered. Get help assessing your situation by speaking with a member of a legal team.
Build a DUI Defense in California
A DUI lawyer in California will advise you against a plea bargain in some situations. They will work, instead, to build your defense for court. A lawyer will take steps to demonstrate that:
- You were not impaired by alcohol when you were operating your vehicle
- You were stopped by a police officer without reasonable cause
- You were given improperly administered blood alcohol content (BAC) tests
Building a defense will allow a lawyer to support you in court and work to show you were not guilty of a DUI. Your lawyer will also focus on getting your charges dismissed. You could avoid DUI penalties if your charges are dismissed. Get information about all of your legal options with a DUI law firm.
Talk to a Lawyer About the Purpose of a Plea Bargain
So, what is the purpose of plea bargains? These deals work to secure a conviction for the prosecution while helping you lessen the penalties for a criminal charge. Discuss the pros and cons of a plea bargain with the Simmrin Law Group. Allow us to investigate your case right now. Just complete our online contact form or call.
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