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Should I Plead Guilty to A DUI Charge? What Happens Next?


It’s hard to know what to do if you get arrested for driving under the influence in Idaho. When you get a citation ordering you to appear in court, you may be unsure about what to say or do once you get there. Should you plead guilty to a DUI charge? Should you deny it ever happened? The court clerk will ask you to enter a plea at your first court appearance, so you need to be prepared. Ideally, you’ll have hired an attorney by that point.

Don’t think you have to plead guilty to a DUI charge automatically. Unless your lawyer advises you otherwise, you should plead not guilty. If you were actually drinking and driving, you may think this makes you seem like you’re evading responsibility. However, this is merely a formality to get the case going. Remember, the first court appearance is just the start of the process and your attorney will have lots of work to do. It’s in your best interest not to plead guilty to a DUI charge at this juncture.

They will need to request discovery, review the file the state has on the matters, and negotiate with the prosecutor. Your attorney will also have to talk to you extensively, so they get the clearest possible picture of your situation. For all these reasons, they won’t advise you to plead guilty before they’ve thoroughly investigated the matter. The court won’t penalize you for pleading not guilty if you later change your plea or get found guilty. Your Boise DUI attorney will explain all this in further detail.

What Happens During the Pretrial Conference

After you enter your plea, the court will schedule the case for a pretrial conference. Some people get nervous about this second court appearance. However, in some cases, you may be able to resolve the matter during this hearing. Your plea will not come up at this point.

The pretrial conference provides an opportunity for your attorney and the prosecutor to discuss the case with each other and the judge.

The latter will ask about whether discovery was completed and whether there are any pretrial legal motions to be filed. These include motions to suppress evidence or dismiss the case. Depending on what your attorney discovered during their investigations, the state’s case against you may become considerably weaker at this point. Maybe your arrest wasn’t lawful, or your breath test was conducted incorrectly.

Sometimes, DUI attorneys can reach a settlement agreement at this point. They may be able to get the DUI charge reduced to a reckless driving charge instead. If the charge is reduced or you reach some other type of plea agreement, the case won’t have to go to trial. You would be able to move on to the sentencing hearing.

What Happens During the Sentencing Hearing?

This is when the judge will hear arguments from both your attorney and the prosecutor regarding sentencing. You’ll likely have to attend such a hearing if you accept a plea deal, plead guilty to the DUI charges, or get convicted by the court. The court decides on the penalties you will face.

Prior to the sentencing hearing, your attorney may ask you to gather the information that supports the mitigating factors. This can include the results of your DUI evaluation, letters from medical professionals, and psychological evaluation.

The court will consider both the aggravating and mitigating factors surrounding your case.

The prosecutor will likely argue that you should face severe penalties for your actions while your attorney will say why you should get the minimum punishment. Possible penalties include fines, jail time, court costs, license suspension, victim impact panel participation, and ignition interlock device installation.

You may have an opportunity to speak on your own behalf and your attorney will advise you as to whether you should do so and what you should say.

Going to Trial

In cases where plea agreements can’t be reached, you will get a trial date. However, in some cases, there may be a status conference ahead of the trial as well as the second pre-trial conference. This happens if the case isn’t ready for trial for some reason or the court thinks further discussion could resolve the matter. If the case goes to trial and you’re found guilty, sentencing will proceed as above. Otherwise, you will be exonerated.

Contact the Trilogy Law Group Today

If you’re facing DUI charges, you need to hire a DUI lawyer in Boise. There is simply too much at stake for you to handle your case on your own. Don’t plead guilty just because you want to get the matter over with. Even if you’re a first-time offender, the penalties can be harsh so you need to give yourself a fighting chance. Call the Trilogy Law Group and schedule a consultation so we can give you professional advice. If you decide to hire us, we’ll do everything we can to secure the best possible outcome.