Your DUI Case: Pleading “Not Guilty” & Plea Agreements
If you are charged with a DUI in Arizona, you have the right to plead “not guilty” when you go to court, even if you think you might be guilty of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. As the defendant, it’s not your job to admit your guilt. It’s the prosecution’s job to prove that your behavior satisfied each element of the crime.
If the prosecution cannot prove every element of the crime, the court will find you “not guilty,” and you will not be subject to the penalties associated with a DUI conviction such as jail time, fines, or having an ignition interlock device on your vehicle.
At your arraignment, you will enter a plea of “guilty” or “not guilty.” Some people are afraid to plead “not guilty” because they fear that the judge won’t like it or will impose a harsher sentence if they are found guilty. That is not true. The court respects your right to plead “not guilty” regardless of the circumstances of your arrest and will make its decision based on the facts that are proven at trial. Please note that your right to plead “not guilty” to the charges against you does not include the right to lie to the court if you testify during your trial.
Prior to your trial for DUI, your DUI attorney can discuss your case with the prosecutor. The two of them may negotiate a plea agreement. Your attorney will represent your interests and try to get the prosecutor to dismiss the charges against you or to create a plea agreement where you plead guilty to a lesser charge instead of being tried for DUI. You have the option to accept or reject any offer for a plea agreement. If you take a plea agreement, there will likely not be a trial.
If your DUI case goes to trial, your Arizona DUI attorney will challenge the evidence against you. Your DUI attorney may raise sufficient arguments to keep some of the evidence against you out of court. He/she may poke holes in the prosecution’s arguments with other evidence and counterarguments to show that the prosecution cannot prove that your behavior satisfies each element required for a conviction of the crime.
If you have been arrested for DUI, please contact an attorney for DUI at Oracle Law Group Office P.C. for assistance with your DUI case.
Photo credit: Emmanuel Huybrechts from Flickr