Many criminal convictions in Minnesota and across the United States are a result of negotiated pleas. While opting for a plea bargain is sometimes criticized, there are several reasons why defendants, prosecutors, and even judges may consider engaging into a plea bargain for a DWI.
For most defendants, a plea bargain can be the best option because it means receiving a lighter or reduced sentence for a less severe charge compared to taking the DWI case to trial and potentially losing it.
A plea bargain also gives both the defense and the prosecution a sense of certainty. It allows them a certain amount of control over the overall outcome, while the result of trials can generally be unpredictable.
By entering into a plea bargain, defendants can also save a significant amount of money on legal fees. More time and effort is generally needed to bring a case into trial, and so negotiating and handling a plea bargain can be the preferred choice.
In certain cases, it can look much better on a defendant’s record to plead guilty in exchange for a reduced charge. A person’s first DWI offense, for example, may be negotiated down to a reckless driving. Should the defendant ever be convicted again in the future, then he or she may still not have to face jail time the second time around. Similarly, a felony charge may be reduced to a misdemeanor.
Some defendants held in custody either cannot afford bail or are not given the right to bail. Immediately after a judge’s acceptance of a plea bargain, however, a defendant may be able to get out of jail completely. Others may be able to get out of jail after serving a shorter sentence, or may be released from jail on probation or with community service requirements.
Defendants such as celebrities or prominent family members who wish to remain out of the public eye and who are concerned about their reputation may also choose to plead no contest or guilty to a DWI. While the plea may make the news, it will be short-lived compared to an entire trial.
For judges and even prosecutors, the primary benefit of entering into a plea bargain is to move along a full docket. The majority of all judges do not have the time to try each and every case that comes their way. Judges are also aware of overcrowded prisons, and plea bargains allow them to weed out DWI offenders who are unlikely to require much jail time.
Source: Plea Bargain Pros and Cons, published on http://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-procedure/plea-bargain-pros-and-cons.html.