Driving under the influence, or DUI, is a criminal offense; however, more often than not, a person charged with DUI is not a career criminal. On the contrary, DUI defendants tend to be otherwise law-abiding citizens who had a momentary lapse in judgment. If you fall into that category, and are currently a defendant in a DUI prosecution, you likely have a number of questions about how to navigate the criminal justice system in general and about your case in particular. The odds are good that you know more than one person who has been in your shoes before, given the prevalence of DUI cases. If all of those people accepted guilty pleas, you may be wondering if Sarpy County DUI attorneys ever take cases to trial, or whether they just negotiate guilty pleas for their clients.
“Pleading Out” DUI Cases
If it seems to you like everyone you know who has been through a DUI case accepted a guilty plea, you are likely correct. The majority of DUI cases are resolved through a negotiated guilty plea agreement between the State of Nebraska and the defendant. The reasons for this are numerous, including the fact that the State’s evidence is often overwhelming and most defendants simply want the case to go away as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, it is also sometimes the case that attorneys encourage clients to “plead out” because they either don’t want the hassle of going to trial or they aren’t really trial attorneys.
Your Right to a Trial
As an accused in the United States of America, you have a number of important rights guaranteed to you by the U.S. Constitution. Your right to a trial by jury is enumerated in the 6th Amendment, which states as follows:
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
Like all your rights, this right is yours to exercise or to waive. You also have the option to waive your right to a trial by jury and have a judge decide your fate. The important thing to understand and remember is that while you should always consult with your attorney about your options, and listen to his/her advice, the ultimate decision to take your case to trial or waive your right to a trial is yours to make.
When Is Trial a Good Idea?
Every DUI prosecution involves a unique set of facts and circumstances, all of which should be considered when deciding how to resolve the case. When making the decision to go to trial or accept a plea agreement, consider the following questions:
- How strong is the State’s case against you?
- Were you legally “under the influence” at the time you were driving?
- Are the terms of the plea agreement particularly lenient or harsh?
- Is there a specific reason why accepting a guilty plea is problematic for you? (i.e. you will lose your job)
- Is the judge known for penalizing defendants who lose at trial with harsher sentences?
- What is your attorney’s record when going to trial?
How Can Sarpy County DUI Attorneys Help?
If you are determined to resolve your case at trial, make sure you discuss your trial options with an experienced Sarpy County DUI attorney – and preferably one who does not have a reputation of pleading out cases. Ask that attorney whether a trial by jury or a bench trial is in your best interest and why. Remember, though, ultimately the choice is yours.
Contact a Sarpy County DUI Lawyer
If you have been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in the state of Nebraska, contact a Sarpy County DUI attorney at Petersen Law Office 24 hours a day at 402-513-2180 to discuss your case with an experienced DUI defense lawyer.