A sobering fact about all criminal charges in the United States is that most cases end in a plea deal with the prosecution, and never see a trial. A stunning 97% of federal convictions are the result of guilty pleas, while 94% of state guilty convictions are the result of a plea deal. Nowhere is this more evident than in DWI cases when all too often the evidence is overwhelming and compels a plea deal. This trend of plea agreements is true for all areas of criminal defense.
One of the biggest reasons that so many cases end up in a plea deal is the ever-increasing presence and aggressiveness of law enforcement. Anytime something goes wrong in society, prosecutors rush to fit that behavior into some criminal activity by getting creative with the criminal code. The vast number of cases necessitates plea agreements because prosecutors would not have the time to take every case they charge to trial.
This new reality of plea bargains in criminal cases recently caused the U.S. Supreme Court to review its jurisprudence on plea deals. The High Court issued a ruling that created a duty for defense attorneys to fulfill certain duties when it comes to plea agreements and offers, including those involving DWI cases.
The case that caused the Supreme Court to issue its new jurisprudence involved a man who was charged with driving without a license. Typically not a very big deal, but since this was the fourth time he faced this charge, he could have been sentenced to four years of prison under Missouri law. To expedite and terminate his case, the prosecution made a plea offer to the man through his attorney, but the attorney did not convey the offer to the client so he could decide whether to accept it or no.
Eventually the man was convicted and sentenced to a much harsher sentence than if he had accepted the original plea offer. It was not until after the fact that he even learned about the plea deal. He appealed his conviction to the Supreme Court saying that his lawyer was ineffective because he failed to inform him of the plea deal offer. The Supreme Court agreed with him, and from that point on lawyers were obligated to inform and counsel their client on each plea offer that comes from the prosecution.
In dealing with Texas DWI cases a similar situation could arise as what happened to the man in the U.S. Supreme Court case. Every DWI case a person is charged with represents more and stiffer penalties. Anytime a DWI defendant in Texas is made a plea offer, it is the attorney’s duty to inform their client about it, but more importantly, to counsel them on whether to take it.
At the Wilder DWI Defense Firm we defend our clients at every stage of a case. We will convey all plea offers to you, but more importantly will help you understand when trial is the better option. Rest assured, if trial is the best option, that is how we will counsel you. If you have been charged with DWI in the Dallas area, contact us.