Taking a Plea Bargain in a Florida DUI Case
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A plea bargain is a deal struck between you and the prosecutor where you agree to give up your right to a jury trial in exchange to the prosecutor agreeing to reduce charges or agreeing to a reduction of penalties. A limitation on plea bargains are mandatory minimum penalties which a judge may impose no matter what the prosecutor and defense attorney have agreed to. For guidance in defending against DUI charges and negotiating plea bargains, you are urged to contact a Jacksonville DUI defense lawyer.
Plea Bargains and Mandatory Minimum Penalties
In seeking a plea bargain, your best bargaining chip is having a strong experienced attorney able to challenge the state's case in trial. If the attorney discovers in the evidence a substantial weakness in the state's case, the attorney may point this out to the prosecutor and likely get a favorable bargain. For instance, discovery of a mistake in the administration of the breath test may lead to a plea bargain reducing a charge to reckless driving.
Reduction of charges is the most favorable method to plea bargain a DUI. This is because the prosecutor does not have much room to deal in a DUI charge due to mandatory minimum penalties set by law. These penalties for first time DUI include mandatory adjudication (that is, no withhold of adjudication allowing you to keep the conviction off your record), court costs, $500 fine, six month license suspension, six to twelve months of reporting to probation including DUI school, fifty community service hours and a ten day vehicle impoundment at your expense.
Filing a Plea of "No Contest"
In many cases involving a plea bargain, the defendant will file a plea of "no contest." This is also known as nolo contendere, which is Latin for "I do not wish to contend." It is important to understand the differences from this and a plea of "guilty." In both cases, the defendant is accepting the sentencing and will, essentially, be pleading guilty. The nuances, however, can make a huge difference. The defendant is not admitting guilt, but is choosing to not fight the charges; this can often happen in cases where the defendant views the evidence as overwhelming and victory as unlikely.
In future cases, "no contest" can play a large role. For example, in civil lawsuits such a plea cannot be used as evidence of the admission of fault. It's also important to note that Florida views "no contest" pleas the same as pleas of guilty. Should you be charged again, it will be viewed as a prior conviction and will cause the same consequences. Therefore, it is important to consider all options and discuss them with your lawyer if you have been arrested.
DUI Attorney in Jacksonville, Florida
At The Law Offices of Jason K.S. Porter, P.A., we assist clients in the Jacksonville area charged with DUI. With three former prosecutors on our team, we are intimately familiar with the plea bargain dynamics in DUI charges. Well-known for our courtroom skills, we are often able to obtain plea bargains for our clients. Assisting in this endeavor is our trained eye for weaknesses in the state's case. We are often able to persuade prosecutors to allow our clients to plead to a lesser charge than DUI. This often enables our clients to avoid license suspension and to avoid having a DUI on their record.
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