California Plea Bargains Explained
When you are charged with driving under the influence in California, you have the option of pleading guilty or not guilty to the offense. If you plead guilty, you will be sentenced as the judge sees fit and the case will be closed. If you plead not guilty, you have a chance to fight your charges by going to trial.
If the prosecution feels that there is a good chance that you might win your trial or they do not think that your case is worth the time and effort it takes to prepare for a trial, you may be offered a plea bargain. A plea bargain is an offer that the prosecution gives you that usually involves you pleading guilty to a lesser charge or accepting a light sentence.
There are many benefits to plea bargains such as:
- You know what your sentence will be before you agree to anything
- You avoid the time, stress and work of going to trial
- You will not have to worry about losing your trial
- The terms of a plea bargain are often very generous
Your attorney will work with the prosecutor in order to try and get you an good plea bargain. There is no guarantee what you will get, so it is important to have an experienced legal team to assist you.
If you do not accept a pleas bargain or your lawyer is not able to get you one, you will have to go to trial in order to fight your DUI charges. If you are found guilty, your sentence will be determined by the judge. The judge will look at the facts of the case, your criminal record and his general opinion of you and make a decision. Once you are found guilty, you have no choice but to accept whatever sentence the judge grants you.
First time DUI convictions for VC 23152 and 23153 usually result in:
- Between 96 hours and six months of jail time
- Between $390 and $1,000 in fines
- 6 months of license suspension
- 30 to 60 hours of alcohol or drug education
California Plea Bargain Charges
When you are offered a plea bargain for your DUI case, an alternate charge is usually offered. The deal will be to plead guilty to a lesser charge and avoid the DUI conviction while still agreeing to some penalties. Some of these charges include:
Prosecutors most often reduce DUI charges to wet reckless charges. A reckless driving charge that involves alcohol is known as a wet reckless. Under Vehicle code 23103, a person who drives a vehicle with disregard for others' safety is guilty of reckless driving. A wet reckless is preferable to a DUI charge for several reasons but mostly because it carries lighter penalties. A person convicted of reckless driving will face the following penalties:
- A jail sentence of 5 to 90 days and/or
- A fine of $145 to $1,000
Unlike a DUI conviction, wet reckless convictions do not require license suspension and do not have the stigma of driving under the influence.
In some rare cases, a prosecutor will offer a reduction of charges to dry reckless. A dry reckless is basically a reckless driving charge that does not involve alcohol. The penalties of a dry reckless are the same as a wet only better because there is no evidence that alcohol was related to the charge and it cannot be used against you in future DUI cases.
In addition to reckless driving, there are several other charges that your DUI can be reduced to include:
- Excessive speeding
- Open container
- Drunk in public
- Several traffic infractions
Plea Bargains in California
There are several important factors to remember about DUI plea bargains. First, a wet reckless conviction still counts as a DUI related charge on your record. This means that if you are arrested for DUI again within the next ten years, you will face charges for a second DUI offense (the wet reckless will count as the first) assuming you had no other convictions prior to your plea deal.
The other important thing to remember is that a plea bargain can still result in license suspension if you lose or fail to appear at your DMV hearing. The DMV moves to suspend all licenses as soon as you are arrested and a plea bargain will not lift this suspension.
California DUI Attorney
If you have been arrested for DUI in California, call our firm right now. Out attorneys are dedicated to helping you fight your charges. We know what it takes to build strong defenses and have established relationships with prosecutors all over Southern California. The best chance that you have at getting a good plea bargain is to have an experienced attorney work with the prosecution to get your charges reduced.
Call us right now to get started fighting for you.