As mentioned in the my first article, New Hampshire DWI Plea Bargains Explained, I would like to help you understand the many directions your drunk driving defense case could go. Below will explain what happens after you've been arraigned for driving while intoxicated in the state of New Hampshire.
Your Criminal Attorney starts to build a DUI defense case.
Your attorney will evaluate your case to determine the potential success you will have in going to trial. No case is completely cut and dry, and no attorney should promise you an outcome. An experienced DWI attorney, however, will be familiar with the people working for the state.
He or she will also be very familiar with previous cases that may have a bearing on your case and whether or not they will favorably affect your case. With all of the preliminary information available to your attorney, motions to dismiss evidence (or even to dismiss charges) will be made.
All judges build reputations for having certain ways of handling cases. Some judges will be perceived as harsher than others when it comes to their handling of DWI cases.
Your experienced DWI attorney will know the reputations of the judges and be able to evaluate how the particular judge will affect your case.
As well as knowing the judge on your case, your attorney will most likely know and have a working relationship with the prosecutor. Your attorney will be familiar with the prosecutor's skills in court, willingness to negotiate, adherence to requests for discovery, and general personality.
It is possible that your attorney will have worked with the prosecutor before (unless the prosecutor is new, which may work in your favor) and know both his or her style and his or her strengths.
Sometimes new prosecutors are so anxious to try cases and win that they are ridiculously unwilling to compromise or plea bargain. While this can be difficult for you, these same prosecutors are also inexperienced when it comes to recognizing weak cases, and you may benefit from this inexperience.
You may wish to avoid a lengthy and costly trial, but not wish to actually admit guilt. This may assist you in retaining your job or in being able to make a statement about your perceived innocence.
If you enter a plea of nolo contendere, the court will accept it and enter it as a guilty plea, but it cannot be used against you as evidence in any civil proceeding.
Is a Drunk Driving plea agreement the best option?
Having any kind of DWI charge on your record can be devastating, both in terms of your criminal record as well as the associated costs incurred (insurance requirements , fees for counseling, probation, drug and alcohol classes, license reinstatement fees, the cost of ignition interlock, etc.).
Having a DWI on your record may affect you in ways you will not even realize down the road, particularly in the area of your career and possibly with your family. It is also likely you will be without a driver's license for some period of time.
Sometimes, accepting a plea agreement is your best option.
Not only does it save you the time and subsequent costs associated with a trial, but it resolves the issue once and for all. You may also feel a plea agreement is your best option – and your attorney will advise you on this as well – if the prosecution is willing to drop or reduce charges, particularly if they have a very strong case against you.
There are many times, though, when a plea agreement is nothing you want to consider. If you know you were not guilty, or if you were not breaking the law or if there is a good reason to fight the charge, you may want to see it through to trial.
If your attorney believes you have a strong case, you can be confident that you will at least have a chance to beat the charges and you should certainly pursue the trial.
Plea to drop multiple charges associated your DWI arrest.
In addition to being charged with DWI, you may also be charged with other crimes, such as reckless driving, resisting arrest, or disturbing the peace. It may be in your best interest to agree to a plea bargain if it includes reducing or dropping some of the charges.
Again, only an experienced DWI attorney will be able to explain all of your options to you and help you make an informed decision.
The judge not the prosecution determines your sentence if found guilty of drunk driving.
It may seem logical that if you go through a trial and are found guilty, that you will receive a harsher sentence or that the prosecuting attorney will recommend a stronger sentence. The fact is, there are prosecutors out there who believe that you should not waste the court's time exercising your right to a trial if you are or know you are guilty.
There are others who maintain a level of professionalism that do not allow themselves to feel that way. Luckily, the prosecutor can only recommend the sentence; the judge will be the one to sentence you. His decision will be based on the facts of the case as well as any prior criminal history.
In addition, there are maximum and minimum sentencing requirements set forth by the legislature.
The court is not all-powerful and must abide by the laws of the state when sentencing you. (For example, a judge could not sentence you to life in prison without parole for a first-offense DWI or the sentence would be overturned on appeal).