Pleas at Anne Arundel DUI Arraignments
At a DUI arraignment in Anne Arundel County, a defendant has the opportunity to enter a plea. This will pave the path for either a deal with the prosecutor to accept some of the charges or for the case to go to trial. A skilled DUI lawyer will be able to advise you on how to enter a plea at your Anne Arundel DUI arraignments.
Pleading Not Guilty
On the arraignment date, a defendant can plead not guilty and go to trial. If they plead not guilty, a trial proceeds and the state calls its witnesses and introduces the evidence to prove their case. The burden of proof rests on the state, not the defendant, so the defendant has nothing to prove. The state must prove that the defendant is guilty.
Regardless of the plea, when someone is found guilty, it is the judge’s option to convey the benefit of a probation before judgment when a person is eligible. It is entirely up to the judge. It is not necessarily affected by the plea. The defendant has a right to have the state make their case.
A guilty plea indicates that a defendant who was fully advised of their right to trial can freely and voluntarily waive that right and admit to one, some, or all of the charges alleged against them. In doing so, an attorney works out a plea agreement on behalf of the defendant in which there is an admission to one or a few charges.
In exchange, the prosecutor often dismisses other charges and recommends a more lenient sentence by virtue of the guilty plea because they are saving the state effort in trying a case and particularly because conviction is a guarantee. Trials can be unpredictable, so the individual may plead guilty to obtain a benefit, negotiate an alternative plea, and put themselves in the better graces of the judge. This is often done when the evidence is overwhelmingly against the defendant.
Arguing the Case After a Guilty Plea
Just because someone pleads guilty, that does not mean they necessarily agree to every assertion. For example, if somebody is charged with a DUI and they had a 0.10 on a breath test, that is enough for a DUI. If the prosecutor alleges the person was combative with police or was falling over drunk, those facts may be contested because an argument can be made that the person was respectful to police not belligerent, and they were not falling over drunk. Minor facets may be challenged and addressed even if the person admits to the underlying offense.
When to Plead Guilty
Often, an attorney can negotiate and obtain a better resolution for an individual if they plead guilty than if they go to trial. If they go to trial, the prosecutor goes forward on all the charges, including the most serious ones.
Frequently, as part of the plea negotiations, a defense attorney may have a prosecutor agree to dismiss the more serious charges and have the person admit to a lesser charge.
Probation Before Judgement
A probation before judgment is something a judge can convey to a defendant if the individual is eligible. When it is a person’s first offense, they are more likely to receive it. Even on a first offense, if there was an accident, a high blood alcohol level, or a child in the car, some judges do not give the benefit of a probation before judgment in those instances.
If somebody takes accountability, completes an alcohol program, and there are no egregious factors underlying the incident, that puts them in a much better position to request and receive the benefit of a probation before judgment.
Pleading No Contest
Pleading no contest in a DUI case in Anne Arundel is rare. It technically does exist in Maryland, but it virtually never happens. There are alternatives to no contest that can happen in Maryland, such as an Alford plea or not guilty agreed statement of facts. Those happen sometimes, but almost no one pleads no contest. Pleading no contest is similar to an Alford plea where a person does not admit to guilt but accepts a conviction, nevertheless.
Contact an Anne Arundel DUI Attorney Today
If your Anne Arundel DUI arraignment is approaching and you need to enter a plea, you need to have a dedicated attorney at your side. They may be able to advise you on the best plea to make in your case, potentially lightening a sentence, or getting charges dismissed altogether. Do not make a plea at Anne Arundel County DUI arraignments alone, an attorney can act as an advocate and advisor to potentially get you the best outcome possible.