Should I Plead Guilty to a First DUI?
A lot of people who are arrested on a first offense DUI in Maryland think that because it’s their first run in with the law, it may be better just to plead guilty and take the punishment. These same people often believe that if they fight back or defend against the charge, the punishment will be worse. There may be fear of retaliation by authority figures like prosecutors and police.
Fortunately, for the most part, this is not how the criminal justice system works. Your first step should always be to speak with an attorney. The Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, P.A. are here to help you understand your rights and weigh your options. There may be times when pleading guilty makes sense. However, you should only do it once you’ve carefully assessed all of your options. Here are a few points to consider when making such an important decision.
Do You Know All of the Evidence the Government Has Against You?
Most people who are facing a criminal charge may believe they know all the evidence the government has. However, chances are the police have at some point or another lied or misrepresented the evidence they actually have. This isn’t unethical or wrong; it’s simply a police tactic that they are allowed to use.
For instance, police may claim they have you on video stumbling and slurring your speech. Have you seen the tape? They may claim another driver stopped and gave a full statement about how you were swerving all over the road and that’s why you were stopped. Have they provided you with that person’s name and a copy of the statement? An experienced attorney can help you properly request relevant evidence and determine whether the government’s case really is as strong as they claim. Under Maryland’s complex discovery rules, you may be surprised just how forthcoming the prosecutor has to be with evidence.
Do You Know What Options Are Available if You Plead Guilty?
Next, consider that the prosecutor is already well aware of all the potential lesser offenses that he or she could potentially use to reduce your penalties. Unless you know the sentencing rules, you could accidentally end up accepting a deal that has equally negative consequences.
Consequences of a Plea Deal
Finally, just remember that pleading guilty to any crime, even a DUI, will have a lot of unexpected consequences. Yes, you will have court fines and possible other sentencing requirements, but here are some other things that will happen:
- You could face a license suspension
- You may be required to use an interlock device
- Your insurance rates will go up
- You can lose your job or suffer future challenges finding or keeping employment
- You could lose out on military or college opportunities
- If you get arrested again at any point in the next 5 years, you will have mandatory jail time
- If you move to some states, your prior DUI may be counted against you forever for the purposes of a second offense
Getting Skilled Advice Early
Once you are charged with a DUI, you need to consult an attorney immediately. This will help you get peace of mind and allow you to begin appraising your options. Call the Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, P.A. in Maryland today to speak with a member of our firm about your case.