Pleas in Georgia DUI Cases
From the first court appearance on your DUI-DWI case, you always have the option to plead guilty to the charges against you. Often, clients who call us are so overcome with a feeling of guilt that the idea of admitting to their guilt consumes much of their analysis of how to proceed with their case. We understand completely.
If any criminal case deserves to be further explored before pleading guilty, it is the typical DUI-DWI case. Therefore, always have your case analyzed by a top criminal defense attorney who specializes in DUI-DWI law before making a final decision.Nolo Contendere
If you elect to allow your attorney to reach the best possible negotiated deal with the prosecution for your situation, you may be able to significantly shorten the prosecutorial process by agreeing to plead guilty or nolo contendere to a single count of DUI-DWI. If this agreement to resolve the case with a negotiated plea is a part of an agreement with the prosecution to recommend a specified punishment, this is presented to the judge as a “negotiated” plea. The judge will either accept the terms of the negotiated plea, or you will be given the opportunity to withdraw your plea and go to trial.
Your judge may be willing to accept most of the negotiated conditions, but may add some additional or modified punishment, if the negotiated deal is to be accepted by the judge. Again, if you reject this modification to the terms of the negotiated deal, you can still proceed with a trial.Open Plea
Another kind of plea is sometimes called a “blind” or “open” plea. It may also be called “pleading straight up.” This is where no agreement between your attorney and the prosecution can be reached. Instead, you stand before the court, plead guilty (or nolo contendere if this is allowed) and accept the punishment as determined by the judge after hearing from both the prosecution and your attorney.
In such situations, the judge will listen to any aggravating or mitigating factors from both attorneys. If you enter into a blind (open) plea, you have no chance to withdraw your plea if you do not like the punishment imposed by the judge during your sentencing.Deferred Disposition
In about a dozen states, first offenders (as defined in your state) may have the option of entering into some sort of “deferred” disposition or some form of withholding judgment of guilt for the DUI-DWI offense. Any such disposition only controls your STATE criminal history since the gatekeepers for your federal criminal history are unconcerned with such deferred adjudications for its record-keeping purposes.
Driving under the influence is a serious criminal offense, and a single DUI conviction can have permanent ramifications. Although you may think your best option is to simply plead guilty and accept whatever penalties the court imposes—which could include a license suspension and jail time—you should be aware of the potential long-term consequences of doing so.
From your insurance rates to your job eligibility, a DUI conviction can impact many areas of your life. For these reasons, most drivers must obtain legal counsel to determine the best strategy for their case. In some instances, you may be able to challenge the legality of your arrest and get your case dismissed.
However, in rare cases, it may be best to negotiate with the prosecution and enter a nolo contendere plea. Nolo Contendere in Georgia in DUI cases is viewed as a conviction. However, it may be able to prevent an admission of guilt from being used against you if you were being sued for causing an accident.What it Means
Translated from its Latin origins, the term nolo contendere means, “I do not wish to contest.” In a legal setting, a plea of nolo contendere means that you do not admit guilt nor do you claim to be innocent of a given charge.
A plea of nolo contendere is entered when an individual does not think there is a possibility that he or she will win his or her case. It can save time and money in court costs and spares the person from admitting wrongdoing or guilt.Disadvantages
If you have been charged with DUI, you may be considering a nolo plea in your case. Before you make that decision, there are a few things you need to consider. First, you cannot plead nolo contendere if:
- You are under 21 years of age
- Your BAC was higher than .15
- You have been convicted of a DUI or entered a plea in a DUI case within the past five years
It is also important to understand that pleading nolo contendere will not save your license from suspension. In fact, it is likely that you will still face penalties similar to those you would face if you plead or were found guilty, including:
- Community service
- Driver’s license penalties
- Required attendance and completion of alcohol education classes
- Jail time
It is rare for a judge to accept a nolo plea. Even if the judge allows it, you still face a conviction and the penalties that go with it, like license suspension up to 1 year, jail time, community service, fines, and an alcohol and drug assessment. A plea of nolo subjects you to the same amount of license suspension time as a plea of guilty in a DUI case.Discussing Options With an Attorney
Given all of the factors involved in a DUI case, it is important for you to consult with an attorney before you enter a guilty or nolo contendere plea. For a free consultation with an attorney at Kohn & Yager, call us today or submit your information online. Someone from our firm will be in touch with you shortly to schedule an appointment.Consulting With a Lawyer
An experienced DUI-DWI attorney can set forth the opinions and provide a recommendation based on his or her knowledge and years of experience, but the ultimate decision about going to trial or accepting either type of plea is YOURS.