If you are facing a DUI charge in DuPage County or any other Illinois municipality, you may be offered a plea bargain (or plea deal) at one point or another. If you are offered a plea bargain, you might have many questions about what this may mean for you and your case.
First and foremost, the most important thing you should know about a plea bargain is that you need to tread with caution. As attorneys who have represented DuPage County and Illinois DUI cases for decades, we have helped many clients avoid bad plea deals, gain favorable results in their case, and make smart, careful decisions when deliberating their legal options.
The truth is, a plea deal can be a good option in some instances. Many times, though, you might have better options. Below, we'll discuss the basics you should know about DUI plea bargains so you can make informed choices about your Illinois DUI case.
Illinois / DuPage County DUI Plea Bargains: The Basics
There are some basic facts you should know about plea bargains if you are facing an Illinois or DuPage County DUI case. Knowing these basics can ensure that you are prepared and knowledgeable if your prosecutor approaches you with a plea deal proposal at any point in your case.
What is a Plea Bargain?
At its core, a plea bargain is a compromise between you and the state or city prosecutor.
You plead guilty to what is often a lesser charge, and the court saves time and money by avoiding the processes of a full criminal trial. In many cases, both the prosecution and defendant will experience some form of benefit from the compromise of a plea deal.
However, it's important to remember that in any compromise, you have to give something up.
All plea deals are compromises at their root, and there are different deals for different criminal charges. However, plea deals are especially common in DUI cases.
How Might I Get Offered a Plea Deal?
Plea bargains are usually proposed at the discretion of the prosecuting attorney for the DUI case. Each lawyer is different, and each lawyer has different philosophies or policies about offering plea deals. Some DUI prosecutors rarely offer plea deals, while others offer them incredibly often.
In DUI cases, plea deals are more often offered to defendants who are first-time offenders who previously had relatively clean driving records. Someone who is arrested for a first-time DUI may get offered a plea deal and be able to plead their DUI charge down to a reckless driving charge.
Are Plea Bargains Good, Then?
Plea bargains can reduce your charge, after all. They can help you avoid harsher penalties, and they save you the hassle of going through a trial.
So, shouldn't they always be a good thing?
Not always. In fact, in many cases, we are able to fight and find better options for our clients.
How much a plea bargain can help or hurt you depends entirely on the unique circumstances of your DUI case. Each case has different prospects, and it takes careful legal analysis to decide whether you are better off taking a plea deal or taking your case to trial. In most instances, though, you have better options.
Do plea bargains help in some cases? Certainly. We can't deny that. But more often than not, we work with clients who make the choice to decline a plea bargain, and end up securing an even better result for themselves with an aggressive and targeted legal strategy.
For example, the most common plea deal offered in DUI cases we represent are plea deals which require our client to plead guilty to reckless driving. At that point, we work closely with our clients to guide them through deciding whether they will take the deal.
Our discussion always comes down to one question: are there better options?
Any criminal defense attorney worth their price should be a fighter by nature, and should fight for their client's interests. In fact, as a firm philosophy, we always aim to provide an aggressive and strategic defense for our clients so that they have options outside of taking a plea deal.
If we analyze a DUI case and see that there is a chance of getting the charges dismissed (whether through challenging the legality of their traffic stop, a lack of probable cause for the DUI arrest, or any number of effective DUI defenses which you can read more about here), we will usually advise our client to be cautious about taking a plea bargain.
On the other hand, we sometimes work with clients who would rather take a plea deal than fight a case in court. In such cases, we can modify our legal strategy while still fighting for our clients' interests. Should a client wish to explore the option of taking a plea deal, we make a point of thoroughly analyzing the terms of the plea bargain, and fighting to get our client more favorable terms in their deal.
In the end, whether you choose to take a plea deal or decline, an experienced and aggressive DUI defense lawyer can help you negotiate a better outcome for your case.
So, What Should I Do If I'm Offered a Plea Deal?
First and foremost, it is important to stay calm and avoid making any rash decisions. Any DUI case is stressful to deal with, and it may seem that pleading out your case can bring a quick end to your problems, but that is almost never the case.
Usually, you will be given a set amount of time to decide whether you will take a plea deal. It is definitely to your benefit to use the time you are given in a productive manner.
Take the time to schedule a free consultation where you can sit down with an experienced DUI attorney and discuss your options. Consultations will allow you to gauge what you should expect from your case, assess whether a plea deal is a good option for you, and decide whether you wish to hire an attorney to fight your DUI case for you. Always use your consultation to your greatest advantage.
Contact DuPage County and Illinois DUI Defense Attorneys
If you are facing a DUI case and concerned about how your case will affect your future, we can help you. With over 50 years of legal experience, the DUI defense attorneys of Dolci & Weiland are skilled at assessing DUI cases and providing our clients with targeted and strategic legal defenses that are personalized to the unique circumstances of their case.
Whether you are considering a plea deal, facing a brand new DUI charge, or struggling in the middle of a tough case, it's not too late to contact us, schedule a free consultation, and discuss your legal options. To schedule a consultation today, give our office a call at (630) 261-9098.