Is a plea bargain in your best interest?
A trial is a time consuming, expensive exercise for the State. It consumes the energy of the judge, the court staff, eight jurors, the arresting and assisting law enforcement officers, expert witnesses and any number of lay witnesses who may testify. As an example of the scale of the criminal justice system, in 2011, nearly 121,000 criminal and traffic misdemeanor offenses were filed in the Franklin County Municipal Court. This court is a good example because, with 15 judges and 30 full-time dedicated prosecutors it is one of the biggest and most well-funded in the State. When you figure in that the judges, court staff and prosecutors must also handle civil cases and other matters, it becomes clear that it would not be possible to prosecute each case to trial. Without additional resources the court would grind to a standstill. Therefore it is in the interests of the state to consider a plea bargain in lieu of trial.
Making the decision about which cases will go forward to trial and which cases can be resolved is an important exercise of prosecutorial discretion. Some prosecutors have a great deal of discretion in fashioning a plea bargain. Some will only enter into a plea bargain in certain types of cases and not in others (like a DUI). It is not uncommon for a prosecutor to not consider a plea bargain in a drunk driving case if the defendant has a prior offense. Another common policy is to not consider a plea bargain in a case with a high test or accident. Another consideration that the prosecutor must take into account is whether or not the judge will accept the plea bargain as proposed. A judge will often accept the proposed plea bargain as a resolution to the case, but by no means is the court required to accept the deal.
Unlike on television, you will not be permitted to attend the pre-trial conference where the plea bargaining process takes place. In most cases, you will wait in the hallway while your attorney goes into the prosecutor’s office to discuss your case. In most cases your attorney will be provided “discovery” at the pretrial. Discovery will include the officer’s version of events (the narrative report), the alcohol influence report, and any video tape of the arrest. Experienced trial counsel will have a knowledge of the court, the prosecutor and what can be accomplished at the pre-trial conference. He or she will point out any weaknesses in your case that would merit a reduction of the charge. Obviously, this is the point where skill, experience and credibility can make all the difference. The plea bargain is then presented to the attorney in the form of an “offer.”
Once you and your attorney have all of the discovery and the offer, you will be in a position to decide whether or not the plea bargain is in your best interests. If it appears the evidence might not be sufficient to convince a jury, the prosecutor may offer an attractive plea bargain. Even if the prosecutor offers a good deal, your attorney may think the evidence is so weak that a jury would not convict. In such a situation, the defense attorney may advise you not to take what, on the surface, looks like a good deal. Take time to understand the offer and the ramifications of taking the offer. Take the time to explore what it would look like to go forward to a motion to suppress and/or trial and what risk that would entail. Long story short, you are in control and must make the decision. The plea decision is based upon balancing the likelihood of a conviction (and the likely resulting penalty) if there’s a trial against the known penalty associated with pleading to the reduced charge. Learn more about the DUI process and plea bargain considerations by calling Dayton DUI.
OVI Attorney Charles M. Rowland II dedicates his practice to defending the accused drunk driver in the Miami Valley and throughout Ohio. He has the credentials and the experience to win your case and has made himself Dayton’s choice for drunk driving defense. Contact Charles Rowland by phone at (937) 318-1384 or toll-free at 1-888-ROWLAND (888-769-5263). If you need assistance after hours, call the 24/7 DUI Hotline at (937) 776-2671. You can have DaytonDUI at your fingertips by downloading the DaytonDUI Android App or have DaytonDUI sent directly to your mobile device by texting DaytonDUI (one word) to 50500. Follow DaytonDUI on Facebook, @DaytonDUI on Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, Pheed and Pintrest or get RSS of the Ohio DUI blog. You can emailCharlesRowland@DaytonDUI.com or visit his office at 2190 Gateway Dr., Fairborn, Ohio 45324. “All I do is DUI defense.”
Get plea bargain and other OVI information at the following city-specific links:
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