If you were recently arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in Nebraska, you will need to make several important decisions over the course of your case. One of the most important of those decisions is whether or not to enter into a guilty plea agreement with the State of Nebraska. Given the highly personal and unique nature of any DUI prosecution, you should always consult with an experienced DUI defense attorney before making the decision to accept a plea agreement. In the meantime, an Omaha DUI attorney at Petersen Law Office discusses some important factors you may wish to consider when considering a DUI plea agreement offer.
Guilty Plea Agreement Basics
First and foremost, you need a clear and accurate understanding of the criminal justice system in general and a guilty plea agreement in particular. After you were arrested, the arresting officer turned in a probable cause affidavit to the prosecuting attorney’s office. The prosecuting attorney is the attorney for the State of Nebraska. It is the prosecuting attorney’s office that makes the final decisions which charges, if any, will be filed against someone who has been arrested. The prosecuting attorney assigned to your case then has the authority to negotiate a guilty plea agreement in most cases. Although the prosecuting attorney is not required to even offer a defendant a guilty plea agreement, one is usually forthcoming in a first-time DUI prosecution absent any serious aggravating circumstances. If you ultimately accept a guilty plea agreement, it will resolve your case and result in a conviction of the charges included in the agreement.
Should You Accept a Guilty Plea Agreement?
If the prosecuting attorney does offer you a guilty plea agreement, there are a number of things you should consider when deciding to accept or reject the agreement, including:
- The strength of the case against you. As a general rule, the stronger the State’s case is against you, the less bargaining power you have to negotiate a favorable plea agreement. If, however, the State’s case against you is weak, you may have more negotiating leverage or you may decide to reject a plea altogether and take your case to trial.
- Any viable defenses you have. Contrary to what many people are led to believe, there are defenses to a charge of DUI. Whether or not any of them apply in your case is something you will need to discuss with your DUI defense attorney. The Rising Alcohol Level defense (RAL) is one defense tactic that can work to avoid a conviction. You may also be able to challenge the original stop or challenge the reliability of the chemical test results.
- The sentence offered in the agreement. For the State, the incentive to offer a plea agreement is avoiding a trial, and all the manhours that go into preparing for that trial. For a defendant, the incentive must be a guaranteed lighter sentence than he/she would likely receive if convicted at trial. Therefore, the sentence you are offered should be acceptable to you.
- The non-judicial consequences. The judicial penalties included in the plea agreement are only half of the actual consequences of a DUI conviction. In fact, sometimes the non-judicial consequences are more troubling and harsher than the actual sentence. For example, if convicted of a DUI in Nebraska, you might also face the following non-judicial consequences:
- Dramatically increased insurance rates for several years after your conviction. Some people face rates as much as 300 percent higher after a DUI conviction.
- Professional disciplinary action if you hold a license such as a doctor, lawyer, school teacher, or nurse.
- Disqualification for a change of status if you are a foreign born national.
- Loss of visitation privileges or negative impact on custody of minor children.
Contact an Omaha DUI Attorney at Petersen Law Office
If you are currently facing DUI charges in Omaha, Nebraska, take the time to consult with an experienced Omaha DUI attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal options. Contact the Omaha DUI defense attorneys at Petersen Law Office 24 hours a day at 402-513-2180 to discuss your case with an experienced defense lawyer.