THERE ARE TIMES WHEN CIRCUMSTANCES WARRANT A GUILTY PLEA
Usually, this is the case if you have more to lose by rolling the dice with a trial than you do if you plead guilty. This is a big if. There are many strategies for defending a DWI charge, many more than the run-of-the-mill criminal defense lawyer knows about, and all of those strategies are worthy of exploring first. That’s why you need a DWI attorney defending you. But sometimes, even skilled drunk driving attorneys confront cases with almost no chance of winning on an issue of articulable suspicion, probable cause, evidence of impairment, or any of the other defense avenues available. Sometimes, the state has an air tight case.
Your DWI lawyer in Charlotte, NC should have enough experience to know if that’s the case, and if it is, to know whether there are circumstances in which you would be better off pleading guilty.
Let’s look at some of those circumstances.
Without a doubt, the most common reasons for pleading guilty involve cases with circumstances that, if they come out in court, would result in a stiffer sentence. For instance: when someone under 16 was in the car while you were driving, when there was property damage as a result of your DWI, or when a person was injured because of your DWI. In theory, if these circumstances are present in your case, the court should know about them already. It should all be in the paperwork in your case file. Most of the time it is, but even so, it may go unnoticed if you plead guilty.
How could that be?
It’s a matter of numbers. Prosecutors have to juggle dozens of cases all the time. At the district court level, they may have to deal with 200 cases a day. Unless your case is particularly notorious, they’re probably not going to know the details of it off the top of their heads. They may scan through your case file, but court moves fast. Critical information can be buried or glossed over even when it’s right before their eyes.
And sometimes, even if the information does come out, you might still be better off pleading guilty.
Because you may well get a lighter sentence. When information about aggravating factors exist in the court record, it’s still something of an abstraction. It’s there, but it’s in the form of typed or scrawled words on some law enforcement report, one of thousands of such reports the court sees every week. Should these factors come out in trial, they’ll come alive as an officer testifies in detail about the damage to the parked car you hit, or the extent of the injuries of your passenger. At this point, these aggravating factors are no longer abstract; the officer is painting the picture of what the scene looked like. The judge is getting a more vivid view of the events on that night and may very well respond with a stiffer sentence. Instead of giving you 7 days in jail, he could give you 14 or 20.