If you’re facing charges for DUI or some other criminal offense and intend to plead guilty, you may be tempted to skip hiring a lawyer to represent you.
That would be a big mistake – and could be a very costly one, too.
Feeling overwhelmed by the legal process or merely just wanting to get it over with is understandable. But a Dayton criminal defense lawyer can make the process much easier for you and can work on your behalf to minimize the impact of a guilty plea.
What Are My Plea Options?
During your arraignment hearing, you have the opportunity to hear the charges against you and make your plea.
Under Ohio law, your plea options are:
- Not guilty – the charges are untrue and you did not commit the crime
- Guilty – you’re admitting to the charges against you
- No contest – you’re saying you did not commit the crime but cannot prevail in court
Many times, those facing charges feel intimidated into pleading guilty – thinking that the case against them is a slam-dunk, when in fact it is not.
In guiding you to make the best decision for yourself, a defense lawyer is ethically bound to make sure you understand:
- The strength of the evidence against you – or its weakness
- The full extent and consequences of you plea options
For example, in most instances, a defense lawyer can arrange for you to not even be present during the arraignment, and enter a plea of “not guilty” on your behalf. That plea can later be changed if you’re offered a deal by the prosecutor.
How Can a Lawyer Help Me If I Plan to Plead Guilty?
Despite popular belief, not all guilty plea agreements are the same. Without the negotiation skills of an attorney, you’ll most likely face the harshest of the possible consequences of your charges.
Keep in mind that a plea deal is more of a legal compromise, and the judge is under no obligation to accept it. It’s all a matter of give and take, with the goal of reaching an agreement that works for everyone.
With a defense attorney on your side, the penalties you face could be significantly reduced to community service, for example, or the charges may be dropped altogether.
You should especially consider hiring a skilled defense attorney if your charges a more complex. Facing charges for more severe crimes, such as a sex crime or a domestic violence crime, can be scary. Our attorneys will be there to help you get the best possible outcome.
How Will a Lawyer Help Me With a Defense Strategy?
Although the prosecutor may lead you to believe the evidence against you is solid, a defense attorney will be able to help you understand the true strength of the case against you.
That is why it is a good idea to initially have a defense attorney enter a plea of “not guilty” at the arraignment on your behalf. Again, the plea can be changed later.
In most instances of DUI/OVI charges, for example, the defense attorney will focus on every aspect of your case. From the actual traffic stop itself; to your arrest, blood alcohol testing and the test results, your defense attorney will look for opportunities for reasonable doubt wherever possible.
How Do I Select The Best Defense Lawyer For Me?
It is vital that you select a defense lawyer with plenty of experience handling cases similar to the charge you’re facing.
With a DUI/OVI charge, for example, you need a lawyer with experience and training in handling cases involving rules for:
- Breath testing
- Field sobriety testing, and
- Blood/urine testing.
Conviction or innocence often hinges on these results.
It’s also wise to select a lawyer who regularly handles cases in the same court where your case is pending. This is important because that lawyer has probably already established relationships with the judge and the prosecutor, and knows what types of plea deals they are more likely to accept.
Without a doubt, taking your chances alone in court will most likely end with you facing the full force of the law.
In addition to providing essential emotional support during what many see as an upsetting and stressful time, a defense attorney will know the ins and outs of what must be proven in order for a conviction to stick as well as the range of penalties for the charges you face.
Whether or not a plea deal is favorable often depends upon who is doing the negotiating. While some deals are simply too good to pass up, there are others that will have long-lasting impacts on your life.