If you are arrested and charged with driving while under the influence (DUI), you have a big decision to make. You have to decide how you want to plead. There are three DUI pleas to choose from: guilty, not guilty, and no contest. Most people want to claim their innocence and deny any charges against them. But in practice, most people end up pleading guilty or no contest to their charges. Prosecutors are experts at convincing people that they have no chance to beat their charges, and that pleading guilty is their best option. A prosecutor might even offer you the guarantee of a lenient sentence if you agree to give up the fight.
Do not plead guilty to your DUI charges before consulting with an experienced Chicago DUI lawyer. Call O’Meara Law today at 312-909-0706 and we can give you a free and confidential consultation about your options.
Pleading Guilty to DUI
When you plead guilty to a DUI charge, you are admitting that you did indeed drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. You will be sentenced to a variety of criminal penalties depending on the circumstances specific to your case. You will have a criminal record for the rest of your life, which can affect your social life and employment opportunities moving forward. Your driving privileges will likely be revoked, which may result in you losing your job.
However, there are some advantages of pleading guilty. You avoid the time and expense involved with a trial. A trial can also bring about unwanted attention, so if you are a public figure, this may be something you may want to avoid.
Pleading Not Guilty to DUI
When you plead not guilty, you maintain that you are innocent. Your goal is to prove to the judge or jury that you did not commit the crime. This does not mean that you cannot be found guilty later and still have to face penalties.
If you do plead not guilty, keep in mind that you’ll be in for a long ride. A trial can last a year or longer, and become emotionally and financially draining. At the outcome, however, you may have no criminal penalties to face, and no criminal record that can affect your employment and the rest of your life.
Pleading No Contest to DUI
A no contest or nolo contendere pleading is similar to a guilty plea. You do not admit that you are guilty – only that the facts alleged in the indictment are factual. You are not admitting to the crime but you may still receive criminal penalties. This strategy is helpful if you are facing a civil suit related to your DUI case, since you are not admitting fault.
A no contest plea is often entered as part of a plea bargain, which may allow you to receive less severe penalties.
How to Get the Most out of Plea Agreements
With courtrooms overburdened, many prosecutors hope to skip over the trial and get the case done with as soon as possible. In order to accomplish this, they may offer you a plea agreement.
A plea agreement involves pleading guilty or no contest to the crime in exchange for lenient penalties. You may get probation, the guarantee of a lower fine, or court supervision (instead of a conviction) if you’re a first-time offender. Your DUI lawyer can negotiate with the prosecutor to get you the best plea agreement possible.
Getting Legal Help for a DUI
How you decide to plead can affect your criminal record for years to come. Even in serious cases where the odds may be against you, it’s possible for your lawyer to find a way to reduce the charges against you. In some cases, your Chicago DUI lawyer can uncover a flaw in the prosecutor’s evidence that may result in your charges getting dropped altogether – before the trial even starts.
At O’Meara Law, we have 20 years of experience helping people like you fight DUI charges. Through aggressive advocacy and skillful negotiating, our goal is to get the best outcome possible for your case.
Call us today for a free consultation at 312-909-0706.