You were arrested for DUI, and now you have a citation that tells you to appear between two dates in court. For example, it may say to appear between September 12th and September 24th. When you appear at the courthouse, you are directed to the clerk’s office. The clerk will ask you how you want to plead, guilty or not guilty?
Should you plead guilty or not guilty? At this stage, unless an attorney has advised you otherwise, you should always plead not guilty. Some people think this is a bad idea because it will appear you are not accepting responsibility for your behavior, and the court will hold this against you. While courts do consider acceptance of responsibility when determining an appropriate sentence, they will not hold it against you that you plead not guilty initially. The reason for this is that the judges know that it is routine to do this initially in a case before an attorney has requested discovery, negotiated with the prosecutor, or discussed the matter with his client. It would be malpractice for an attorney to merely enter a guilty plea for their client before doing this investigative work. In other words, pleading not guilty is simply a formality to get a case started.
Once you enter a not guilty plea, the court will set the matter for a “pretrial conference”. All of the procedures mentioned above will be completed before the pretrial conference date, and then you may be able to resolve the case on the time of the pretrial conference. The court will not bring up the fact that you plead not guilty when you appeared before the court clerk, and your attorney can still argue that you are accepting responsibility.
Do not enter a guilty plea to a DUI at any point without consulting with an attorney. You may have legal defenses to the charge, or the government’s case may have a defect, or there may be room to negotiate with the prosecutor before entering a plea. It is always important to consult with an attorney before entering a guilty plea.
Craig Atkinson is the lead attorney at Atkinson Law Office,
Boise DUI and Criminal Attorneys. It is located at 1087 W River St #290, Boise, ID 83702. You can call him anytime at 208.571.0627.
Ask Craig to review your case.