Let's say you get pulled over by police on a Saturday night and when you blow into the Breathalyzer, the number is way above California's legal limit of 0.08%. At that point, you pretty much have to plead guilty to the DUI charge, right?
Wrong. Let's be clear about this: You never have to plead guilty to any charge. In some situations, it may be wiser to do so, but the defendant always has a choice.
So how can you know when pleading guilty is a good choice? Making that decision depends on a lot of factors such as the evidence, the charges, and your prior record.
Any guesses on who can help you analyze that information?
If you a guessed a lawyer, you've probably been reading this blog for a while. But just in case you're not convinced, we've got three things that prove it.
- Your lawyer can analyze the evidence. How damaging is a 0.10% blood alcohol content? What about if the Breathalyzer wasn't calibrated in the last week? The last month? Your lawyer will know the answers to those questions and many others that can affect your case. Then you can make an informed decision about whether or not to plead guilty.
- Your lawyer is trained to negotiate. Pleading guilty isn't just admitting to a crime. Often it's possible to plead guilty to a lesser offense and decrease the length of a potential sentence. But are you prepared to negotiate with state prosecutors in order to get the best outcome? Probably not, but you know who is? Your lawyer.
- Your lawyer is on your side. It's true that the prosecution or the judge will describe your options when pleading guilty and may go through the consequences. But at the end of the day, they aren't on your side. The only person who will be able to give you professional help and be on your side is your attorney.
If you qualify based on income, the court will provide a public defender for your case. But if that doesn't apply to you, hire a lawyer. Your freedom may depend on it.