DUI Trial Versus Taking The Plea

The first criteria would be to consider what the case actually is; meaning whether it is a felony or a misdemeanor.

Going To Trial For A Misdemeanor

In regards to misdemeanors, people generally think they should go to trial if they are not able to get a favorable plea offer. Whereas on felonies, the issue is to consider why go to trial at all; meaning they would try to avoid it.

With misdemeanors, even if the person does go to trial and lose, they would basically do no worse than the plea offer unless the plea offer presented any real benefit.

For example, it would be a real benefit to a person if they were charged with an Extreme Driving Under the Influence charge and the offer was to plead to a regular DUI. In this case it would be a situation where it might just be better to do a plea.

On the other hand, if the person was charged with an Extreme Driving Under the Influence and if the offer was to plead to those same charges, then there really would not be any real advantage to taking the plea offer and so they might as well go to trial.

Going To Trial For A Felony

It is the reverse for felonies, because we have to assess whether it is worth the risk to go to trial.

The issue is deciding whether or not to go to trial because the person could definitely end up with a much worse sentence if they lose.

In Maricopa County felony DUIs are, for the most part, done by one the DUI courts within the Superior Courts. There is not as much erratic sentencing as there used to be, although it would still clearly be possible to get a much worse sentence.

For example, the mandatory minimum for someone who is guilty of a first time felony DUI would include four months in the state prison; although the presumptive sentence would be two and a half years in the state prison.
They could go to trial where the offer would be four months in jail. If they lose the judge at sentencing might say he felt the presumptive sentence would have been more appropriate, so he might give the person two and a half years in prison instead.

This is not as true as it used to be, but it would still be a risk. In these cases, the issue is whether or not it is a good idea to even go to trial and whether there is anything about the case that would make it more favorable for trial.

Possible Issues With Taking A Felony To Trial

Felonies would generally be problematic to begin with because one of the elements of the offense would depend on three possibilities. Firstly, it would depend on whether the person’s license was suspended at the time of the incident. Secondly, it depends on whether they had two or more prior DUI convictions within seven years and thirdly if there was a child who was under the age of 15 in the vehicle.

For example, if there were two prior DUIs, it would be extremely difficult to win a case because one of the first questions the jurors will ask is whether the person had any prior convictions. If the person had a real reason, for example, there was a problem with the notice, then the question is whether the person knew their license had been suspended. Unless there is some legal reason, it is always a risk to go to trial for a felony unless there is a real issue to argue.

There Is Risk Involved In Going To Trial Simply Because You Do Not Like The Plea Offer

With felonies, the question is why to go to trial if there is a risk of ending up with something much worse than the plea offer. With misdemeanors, they often could not do worse than the plea, although that can happen in rare occasions.

If it was a felony and this was the criteria they wanted to use, then there is an obligation to go through the facts and what the client anticipates will happen in the trial. With felonies, going to trial simply because the person does not like the plea offer is sometimes a very bad idea.

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