A DUI in Tampa, Florida, is a serious charge in that comes with stiff penalties, such as fines and jail time. A prosecutor may approach the driver and ask if they would rather take a plea deal. It helps to understand what happens when making a plea deal.
Basics of DUI sentencing
After a driver gets booked on DUI, they will face a judge and enter their plea. If they plead not guilty, the court sets a bond and a trial date. The defendant pays the bond to stay out of jail while awaiting trial, and these bonds often come with conditions. For example, the court may prohibit the driver from drinking any alcohol.
A guilty plea means the defendant admits guilt, and they are willing to accept sentencing. A no-contest plea works in the same manner except the defendant is not admitting guilt.
Accepting a plea bargain
Before accepting a plea bargain, an attorney should review the consequences with the defendant. A driver commonly must sign a form to show that they agree to giving up certain rights. Plea bargains usually work best for cases in which no defense could prove the driver not guilty.
A plea bargain may allow the driver to lower the DUI to a lesser charge, such as reckless driving, that comes with less jail time. The driver could get community service or be offered a first offender program instead of jail by entering a plea deal. However, they may need to plead not guilty at the first trial to give the defense more time to negotiate a favorable bargain.
Many drivers don’t know that they can fight DUI charges, or they try to fight them alone. An attorney may review their case and help them decide on the best possible course of action.