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Is a plea bargain the right act to take in a Massachusetts DUI charge?

According to the Bureau of Justice Assistance about 90-95 percent of all criminal cases are thought to be settled through a plea bargain.
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    December 21, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- When someone in Worcester is arrested and facing criminal charges, it is important to consider one's options carefully. One of those options includes taking a plea bargain and this is a common choice that people select, whether they have been charged with a first-time DUI or some other kind of offense.

Considering a deal

After pleading not guilty to motor vehicle homicide while driving drunk and eight other charges, a Sandy Hook man is said to be considering a plea bargain in Massachusetts. According to New Haven Register, the charges stem from a multi-vehicle accident in February 2012 that the man allegedly caused while driving drunk. He hit two vehicles and one of the drivers died.

Further investigations show that the man has been convicted of drunk driving on six different occasions. It is unknown what kind of deal is being offered but in the event that the plea bargain does not take place a trial is scheduled. He faces up to 15 years in prison if he is convicted.

The purpose

The purpose of a plea bargain is to reach a solution that the defendant and the prosecuting attorney can agree with. According to the Bureau of Justice Assistance about 90-95 percent of all criminal cases are thought to be settled through a plea bargain. While it is a popular method, there is concern that people are agreeing to something before they have time to fully consider the impact the plea will have and other options available to them, such as going to trial and letting a jury hear the evidence.

The benefits

According to Frontline, the biggest benefits that plea bargains provide are the saving of time and money. Often, prosecutors are willing to offer a deal because it means that the case is quickly resolved, giving them time to focus on their other cases. It can be less expensive for both sides; the county doesn't have to spend money on gathering evidence, witnesses and preparation while the defendant doesn't have to worry about paying legal fees.

In addition to those, the defendant usually agrees to plead guilty to a lesser charge which often comes with a decreased set of penalties. If, for example, a person is charged with DUI they may be able to agree to plead guilty to reckless driving instead and avoid jail time and other punishments.

The disadvantages

While a plea bargain sounds like a win-win situation for both sides, there are disadvantages and these include:
- Innocent people are often pressured to accept a plea deal by the prosecutor's office.
- The facts and evidence are never heard by a jury.
- The person faces the risk of receiving a harsher sentence if the jury finds him or her guilty.
- A judge may not always accept the sentence proposed by the prosecutor in the deal.
- A guilty plea must be entered.
- A person cannot change his or her mind later.

Some legal professionals argue that the plea deal method is not always fair because the prosecution has the discretion of what charges and sentencing will be for the defendant. When someone is facing a DUI charge it is important to talk first with an experienced attorney before making any decisions.

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