Pleading to Your New Hampshire DWI Case
If you are arrested for suspicion of Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) in New Hampshire, the first chance you will have to appear in front of a judge will be at your arraignment. This is when your charges will be formally read to you. It is also the time when you will enter your initial plea. By pleading, you are telling the court whether or not you agree with their charges. According to RSA 265-A:3-a, a person charged with DWI or aggravated DWI in New Hampshire will have their arraignment scheduled within 14 days of arrest.
By pleading guilty or nolo contendere, you are telling the court that you do agree with the charges. Defendants that plead guilty will go immediately to sentencing where the judge will decide what penalties they will be subject to. If you plead not guilty, your case will move to trial so that you may have a chance defend yourself and the State will have to prove their case against you. It is important for everyone charged with DWI to understand how pleading works in order to make sure that they make the best decision.
How to Plea to NH DWI
There are 3 types of pleas that a DWI defendant can enter. They are as follows:
- Guilty – When a defendant wants to admit guilt to the charges brought against them, they will plead guilty. By pleading guilty, a defendant is taking responsibility for all charges and stating to the court that they will not require the State to prove their case. Any defendant can enter a plea of not guilty at their arraignment and then later change their plea to guilty at any time. For this reason, many DWI attorneys advise their clients who want to plead guilty to enter an initial plea of not guilty in order to review what evidence the prosecution has against them. In some cases, a defendant may find that the evidence against them is not as strong as they originally thought. If however, the evidence is overwhelming, the defendant can then change their plea to guilty and move straight to sentencing.
Not Guilty – By pleading not guilty to charges, a defendant is basically telling the court that they would like the Sate to prove that they are responsible for the crime. Once a plea of not guilty is made, the case will move to trial where both sides will argue their side in front of a jury. The jury will then decide if they believe the defendant is guilty or not guilty. A defendant that is found guilty by a jury will then be sentenced by the judge in the same manner as if they had initially pleaded guilty. If they are found not guilty, however, the charges will be dismissed and the defendant will be free to go.
- Nolo Contendere – This plea means that the defendant is choosing not to contest the charges against them. Also referred to as nolo or no contest, nolo contendere is a plea where the defendant is basically stating that they do not accept responsibility for the charges but do not wish to pursue them in court. This is often used in cases where the defendant does not want to go to trial but also does not want to admit guilt. No contest pleas are used in cases where the defendant may be facing civil charges as well or is agreeing to a plea bargain. They essentially want to plead guilty but do not want to admit to the crimes.
Call a New Hampshire DWI Attorney for Assistance
If you have been arrested for DWI in New Hampshire, contact our office right away. An experience DWI attorney will help you make the best decision for your case. Even if you plan on pleading guilty, you should speak to a lawyer before you go to your arraignment. By entering an initial plea of not guilty, your case will move to the discovery process where you and your attorney will get access to what evidence the State has against you. In some circumstances, you may discover that the case against you is actually a lot weaker than you had originally thought.
You always have the right to plead not guilty, even if the results of your sobriety tests were incriminating. Regardless of the type the charges you are facing, you always have defense options. Call Russman Law to set up a consultation in order to find out more about these options.