One of the most frequent questions I hear from clients has to do with plea bargains vs. trials. If there is a fundamental flaw with the evidence to be used against you, or if the State’s witnesses are weak, the State may not be able to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt and you should consider taking your case to trial.
On the other hand, your case may be one where the State’s evidence is admissable and we may decide that a judge or jury trial may be risky. In such instances, we may be able to negotiate a favorable plea bargain to keep you out of jail or to other minimize the negative consequences of a DUI conviction.
What factors come into play when we negotiate a DUI plea bargain? There are no published statistics to answer this but DUI defense lawyers around the country generally find similarities in their experiences. Ohio DUI lawyer Brad Koffel posted a list of the top ten risk factors that hurt his chances at negotiating a plea bargain. Brad’s list is not exhaustive but I agree with him that the more of these factors that apply in your case, the more difficult it will be to negotiate the most favorable terms of a plea bargain.
Here are the factors that attorney Koffel identifies:
- Car Accidents
- Blood Tests
- Breath Tests
- Urine Tests
- Video showing an impaired client
- State patrol hotline calls about our client
- Client or passenger statements tantamount to confessions of being DUI
- Rudeness & belligerence towards police officers
- The county the DUI arrest occurred
- Prior Convictions for DUI
Rest assured that even if your case seems hopeless, your DUI defense lawyer’s job is to identify each and every weakness of the State’s case and to guide you regarding steps you can take to help your chances. I have found that clients accused of the most serious DUI offenses need representation even more than first time offenders with limited alcohol impairment. I have yet to see a case where even a repeat offender with several of these risk factors does not have some redeeming character attribute that can help his case. I therefore urge you not to just give up if the case against you looks bleak.