When you have been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, you will be asked to appear before the Judge in criminal court. This appearance is referred to as the Arraignment. At an arraignment, the Judge will read you your rights and what you have been charged with. The Judge will also go over the maximum penalty allowed by the State of California, for that specific charge.
The prosecutor will also speak to you at the arraignment. He or she will offer you, what is referred to as a Plea Bargain. The plea bargain essentially is an offer of a lesser sentence than the statutory sentence, if you plead guilty that day. Many times people make the mistake of accepting this offer right away. They want the case to be completed, they want to start serving their sentence, paying their fines and doing their community service.
When you have been charged with a criminal offense, it causes you a lot of stress and anxiety. Even being in the courtroom is not a pleasant experience and you want the whole ordeal to be over as soon as possible. Accepting the plea bargain on the very first court date allows for your case to be completed and for you to move on. That is why, many of our clients want to take the offer right off the bat.
Although the short time relief of having your case completed sounds comforting, if you enter into a plea bargain when it is not in your best interest, the consequences will still cause you trouble for atleast the next three years.
For example, let’s assume David is nervous and anxious and wants his case over. At the arraignment the Prosecutor offers him the standard DUI offer and he accepts it right away. He walks out of court feeling relief that his case is “over”. But is it really over? David must now be on probation for atleast 3 years. He will participate in a three to six month alcohol program. He will make payments on a fine until he pays off the full balance, and/or he may have community service to complete.
So in retrospect, David is not done with his case at all. Whether David should have accepted the offer, or whether David had a chance of not being found guilty of any charge is a discussion you should have with an experienced Los Angeles DUI lawyer. Sometimes it is in the person’s best interest to plead guilty at the arraignment and immediately start serving their sentence, or oftentimes it is not. With the advice of a professional, it may be much better for you in the long run to plead not guilty and fight the case so that in the end you walk away with a case that is completely closed, and there is no sentence to serve.