Can You Plea Bargain in a DUI Case in Arizona?
If you are charged with a DUI in Arizona, there is no guarantee your case will be fairly analyzed by jurors. Some jurors place too much emphasis on certain pieces of evidence while others improperly weigh testimony in an attempt to reach a verdict in a timely manner. Furthermore, uncertainties arise when a DUI case goes to bench trial. This is precisely why there is merit in eliminating such uncertainty through a plea bargaining agreement. In fact, both the prosecution and the defendant might find a plea bargain agreement is optimal.
Few Cases go to Trial
Did you know the majority of criminal cases do not make it to trial? The United States Sentencing Commission reports around 2% of criminal cases go to trial. In some instances, the police officer who makes the DUI arrest is unavailable to testify in a court of law. Even the unavailability of an important witness can spur the prosecution to enter a plea bargain. Entering a plea bargain is somewhat appealing to the prosecution as it is recorded as a conviction.
The Basics of Plea Agreements
A plea agreement involves the defendant pleading guilty. The benefit of a plea agreement for a DUI or another criminal charge is that the charge is reduced to an offense that is less serious, ultimately reducing the sentencing as well as the fines. The best plea bargains are designed to minimize the defendant’s exposure in the context of criminality while ensuring the state gets to officialy record a conviction to bolster its internal statistics.
However, if the prosecution believes its case is strong, it might not even consider making a plea bargain offer for a DUI charge. However, there is still some incentive for the state to make such a deal as it is recorded as a conviction while ensuring the hardworking Arizona taxpayers do not have to foot the bill for a trial in a justice system already overloaded with hearings.
Plea bargains can occur at all stages of DUI Cases. In fact, a plea bargain agreement can be reached smack dab in the middle of a trial. However, in most situations, plea bargain agreements are reached during the pretrial period toward the beginning of the case. The prosecuting attorney will consider whether earlier convictions for DUI and other issues warrant the offering of a plea bargain agreement.
The Best DUI Attorneys Have Mastered the Art of DUI Plea Bargain Negotiating
The knowledge and skill of the DUI attorney are essential to negotiating a beneficial plea bargain agreement. The prosecution is required to share evidence with the defense during discovery procedures. The best DUI attorneys will analyze the police report for omissions and other flaws. Furthermore, the best DUI attorneys are willing to perform their own case probes and even conduct interviews with witnesses.
Plea negotiations are discussed by the defense attorney and the state prosecutor within the prosecutor’s office or on the phone. Once the plea agreement is reached, it is sent to the judge presiding over the case. The judge can approve the proposed deal though he or she is not required to accept a plea agreement.
Reducing DUI Charges
A driver whose BAC test revealed a level of 0.08% has a decent chance of having the charge reduced to that of reckless driving. However, if the driver has a previous DUI or a flawed driving record, reducing the DUI will prove more challenging. Most defendants seriously consider such a plea bargain as it prevents the attachment of a stigma tied to a DUI conviction and also ensures the driver retains his or her driver’s license.
If the driver’s BAC level is measured at 0.15, it is an extreme DUI, meaning the defense will attempt to reduce the charge’s level by insisting no harm or damage was caused and it is the suspect’s first offense. Though it is difficult to reduce an aggravated DUI from a felony to a misdemeanor, it is possible with the assistance of an experienced Arizona DUI attorney.