I want to help you understand, in greater detail, the many nuances of plea bargaining your case rather than facing a criminal trial. This is the first of a 2 part article series explaining the various plea bargains that can be obtained while going through your drunk driving defense case.
We will be explaining the possibility that you either have chosen not to fight the charges or that the evidence is such that you feel you cannot fight them.
At your arraignment, you will make a decision about whether to plead guilty or not guilty. Because the arraignment happens so early in the case, your attorney will typically advise you to plead not guilty at this point.
You should take your attorney's advice if you can, and allow him or her the opportunity to review the facts of your case and determine if there is a chance that you can reduce the charges or mitigate the sentence.
Between the date of the arraignment and the date of your trial, your attorney will gather all of the information about your case through discovery and investigation.
Once the information is known, your attorney will be able to advise you whether or not a plea agreement is a good idea for you.
By pleading not guilty at your arraignment, you also indicate to the prosecution that you are at least willing to fight the charges.
That alone may make the state more amenable to a plea agreement to avoid the lengthy and costly prosecution.
Negotiating a Plea Agreement in Your DWI Defense
You may end up negotiating an agreement with the prosecutor to plead guilty, usually to a lesser charge and/or a shorter-than-maximum sentence.
The prosecution may not be very willing to offer your lesser charges, because according to New Hampshire statutes, if the state reduces the charges, they have to provide an explanation in writing to the attorney general.
If something happens and the state refuses to accept your plea for the lesser offense, the plea will be changed to not guilty and the guilty plea cannot be used against you at your trial.
However, the prosecutor can only recommend a sentence; the judge will still have the final say as to what your actual sentence will be.
Most often the judge will adhere to the recommended sentence of the prosecutor.
Pleading Guilty Without an Agreement in New Hampshire
You may also plead guilty without making an agreement with the prosecution.
The prosecution will recommend a sentence that is typically harsher than you would want.
They will tell the judge all the reasons why you deserve the sentence they recommend, for example, if there was an accident or injury, or if you did not cooperate with the officers.
Your attorney will speak on your behalf and argue for a lighter sentence based on all of the factors in your favor, such as taking responsibility, having an evaluation that shows you are not a substance abuser, and your cooperation with the arresting officer.
Your attorney will give you the most likely scenarios, and you will have an opportunity to address the judge and plead your case for a lighter sentence.
After the Arraignment Help Your DWI Attorney with Your Defense
Between the time of the arraignment and your scheduled trial, your attorney and his staff will be working diligently to obtain all of the facts of your case to have a clear picture of what might happen at your trial.
Your attorney will need detailed information about the day of your arrest and may have you fill out forms or detailed interview questionnaires to make sure they have a complete picture.
They will also review the police reports, accident reports, any video or audio recordings that were made during the arrest, as well as any alcohol concentration test results.
Once your attorney has all of the information, he or she will most likely sit down with you and go over the details of your case and work to resolve any negative issues your case has.
Your attorney will ask you for names and numbers of any witnesses who maybe helpful; he or she may also hire a private investigator.
Check back for part 2 of New Hampshire DWI Plea Bargains Explained.