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Should I Plead Guilty or No Contest to DUI? Or Fight It?

Posted on June 23, 2021 in DUI

If you get arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in Arizona, it is critical to understand your rights as a defendant. Working with a Tempe DUI attorney can make all of the difference, as your lawyer can give you trustworthy legal advice from years of experience representing clients in DUI cases. Your lawyer can help you decide whether to plead guilty, no contest or not guilty, as well as explain how your plea will shape your future.

What Does Pleading Guilty Mean?

Pleading guilty means you are admitting that you committed a driving under the influence crime and are accepting the penalties without attempting to prove your innocence. Pleading guilty takes away your right to fight a conviction in court. It can come with advantages, however, such as a plea bargain – an arrangement with the prosecutor for lesser penalties than if you go to trial and are found guilty of a DUI by jury.

As a general rule, it is best not to plead guilty as early as the arraignment hearing or plea hearing. Pleading guilty early on takes away your right to fight the charges. In general, the plea deals a prosecutor offers after an arraignment hearing are just as favorable as those offered later if you choose to change your plea and enter into plea bargaining later.

The penalties for a DUI conviction in Arizona can be severe. Thus, it is better to plead not guilty in the beginning and give yourself a few weeks to hire a defense lawyer and create a strategy before your next hearing. Your lawyer can always submit a different plea and negotiate a plea deal later – any time before the jury verdict – if desired.

What Does No Contest Mean?

A no-contest plea is an alternative to pleading guilty. It states that you are not challenging the DUI allegations against you, but you are also not admitting your guilt. After submitting a no-contest plea, a judge will review the evidence submitted and will most likely find you guilty. You will receive a DUI conviction and be sentenced accordingly. Note that if you wish to accept a plea deal, a judge may require that you plead guilty rather than no contest.

When Should I Fight a DUI?

Both a guilty plea and a no-contest plea will lead to a DUI conviction. If you wish to fight a DUI, you must submit a plea of not guilty instead. This means you are taking the stance that you did not commit the crime in question and plan on combatting the charges during a DUI trial. At this point, if you have not already, you should hire a DUI defense lawyer to help you create a strong defense for your hearing.

Unless you have a legal background, it can be difficult to determine if you have a chance of beating a DUI charge by going to trial. An experienced DUI defense lawyer, however, can carefully review the facts of your case to let you know how strong it is and if there are defense options available for you to fight the DUI. If so, your attorney can represent you during a DUI trial to maximize your chance of a positive jury verdict.

A DUI lawyer can go over all of the possible consequences of each type of plea. Then, your attorney can help you decide which plea to enter according to the circumstances of your case. An attorney can look at your criminal record, the evidence the prosecution has against you, your drug or alcohol test results, and other factors to determine which type of plea is right for you. Next, an attorney can go to court on your behalf to submit your plea and negotiate a plea deal or represent you at trial. Learn more today by requesting a free consultation with Rosenstein Law Group.

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