What Happens if I Plead Not Guilty to a DUI?
You miscalculated by assuming you were fit to drive when you were not. You were arrested, jailed, and released in Texas on a charge of driving under the influence. Then, you were given a court date when you were released, but have no idea what an "arraignment" is. The court day has arrived, and the judge is asking you how you would like to plea.
Unfortunately, you've already made your first error if the first court appearance has arrived and you have not engaged an expert Texas DUI defense attorney to represent you. A plea decision has far-reaching consequences, and a blunder could have long-term consequences for your criminal record. It's possible that your security clearance or medical license might be revoked.
When it comes to DWI cases, time is of the essence, and one should speak to a lawyer as soon as possible. Sparks Law Firm is ready to analyze your case and explain your alternatives if you have been arrested for DWI in the Fort Worth area.
Arraignment - Pleading Guilty, Not Guilty, or No Consent
People have the right to hear any criminal charges read to them under the 6th Amendment of the United States Constitution. Being arrested and jailed without knowing what crime one is being accused of is one of the injustices the Constitution seeks to prevent. In Texas, the courts fulfill this role by holding an arraignment hearing. A court appearance in which the offender and the prosecutor in the case appear before the judge is known as an arraignment hearing. A judge frequently hears a significant number of arraignment cases in a single courtroom.
Individuals are issued documentation informing them of their arraignment date if they are released after their DUI arrests. An arrest warrant is issued if the person doe not show up on that day. If someone is not freed on bail or bond following their arrest, police enforcement brings them before the judge for their arraignment.
The judge formally reads aloud all of the offenses one has been charged with during their arraignment. If the person is not represented by a counsel at their arraignment, the judge advises them of their right to one. People also have the option of requesting a court-appointed attorney; however, they must meet rigorous financial requirements to do so. The judge asks the person to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest before the hearing is over. The offender is the only one who can choose the initial plea; neither the court nor the defense attorney may force anyone to do so.
By entering a plea of guilty, one is confessing to the crime for which they have been charged. This concludes the case and leaves the person with a criminal record. If someone entered a guilty plea after trying to negotiate a plea deal with the prosecutor, the court reviews the agreement and decides whether or not to implement it. If the offender and the prosecution cannot reach an agreement and the individual nevertheless pleads guilty, it is up to the court in the case to impose a sentence that is consistent with the minimum and maximum sentences available. This is a risky situation since the judge in the case may choose the strongest penalty available.
You give up your right to a jury trial when you plead guilty. The judge also speaks with the offender to see if they are pleading guilty against their will and to see if they believe they are guilty of the offense.
Not Guilty Plea
One essentially tells the court that they disagree with the charges against them and that they want a trial when they plead not guilty. This is the only way to keep the case open while also avoiding a criminal conviction on one's record. The case continues if someone enters a not guilty plea.
The defense attorney asks to see the evidence that has been brought against their client. If the lawyer discovers a viable defense or grounds for dismissing the case, the court holds a preliminary hearing to address those problems. The case eventually goes to trial in front of a jury. Keep in mind that just because someone entered a not guilty plea at arraignment doesn't mean they can't change their mind afterward.
No Consent Plea
In a DWI case, a no-contest plea is essentially a guilty plea. A plea of no contest, also known as pleading Nolo Contendere, allows one to accept that there's enough evidence to convict them of a crime; however, they don't plead guilty or not guilty. A no-contest plea, like a guilty plea, concludes the case against the person and takes away their right to a trial. A no-contest plea might include a suggested sentence arrangement if the prosecution agrees.
Pleading Not Guilty in a Texas DUI Charge
At the end of the day, it's always advisable to plead not guilty at the arraignment. Even if one intends to plead guilty, they should always speak with expert DUI lawyers in Fort Worth TX about the case. The prosecutor in the case deals with dozens of cases similar to this; however, the offender probably has little expertise with the legal system. Therefore, how do they know if the plea deal they're getting from the prosecutor is typical or fair? Our attorneys have spent years defending DWI charges in the Fort Worth region and may use their knowledge to put a plea offer in perspective. The lawyer may also have DUI charges dropped to reckless driving, depending on the situation and evidence presented.
Any type of plea deal is unlikely to be in one's best interests if they have an aggressive, experienced DWI defense attorney on their side. Regardless of how confident the prosecution in the case appears to be, the truth is that proving one's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt is a challenging task. To get a DWI conviction, the State must prove each element of DUI; meanwhile, the defense lawyer simply needs to demonstrate to a jury that one of those criteria has not been reached. An attorney may be able to negotiate lesser charges or even a complete dismissal of the allegations against the person by actively preparing the case for trial. With a guilty or no contest plea, none of that is possible.
Contact Sparks Law Firm Today for a Free Consultation!
Whether dealing with prior alcohol-related offenses, pending DUI charges, or upcoming court dates, we're the team for you! We value our attorney-client relationship and sensitive or confidential information. Therefore, we fight aggressively for your rights. We help in even the more complicated cases such as how to beat a DUI less safe charges. Contact us today for a free consultation!