Are Plea Bargains Allowed in New Jersey DUI Cases?

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Plea bargains are often used for the prosecution and defense to come to a middle ground and avoid going to trial. Plea bargains were not previously acceptable for DUI cases in New Jersey but new bills have been signed into law that change that fact. Speak with a Mercer County DUI lawyer for representation during your case and to determine if a plea bargain is the right choice for you.

What is a Plea Bargain?

Plea bargains are often used in criminal proceedings as an agreement between the prosecutor and the defendant. The defendant can agree to a plea bargain by pleading guilty to a lesser charge than they were facing in exchange for a more lenient sentence. It is an alternative method of resolving a case. If either party does not agree to a plea bargain then the case will go to trial.

Does NJ Allow Plea Bargains in a DUI Case?

New Jersey’s drunk driving statute previously did not allow plea bargains for DUI cases. The only option for a person facing DUI charges was to plead guilty and accept the consequences or to fight their charges in court. However, in December of 2023, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill that allows plea bargaining in DUI cases.

As of February 2024, prosecutors now have the ability to recommend plea bargains in a DUI case. This will be beneficial to both prosecutors who may be inundated with cases and defendants who can mitigate the penalties associated with their charges.

Should I Accept a Plea Bargain?

Now that NJ law allows plea bargaining in DUI cases many may wonder whether or not they should accept one if it is offered. There is no way to know for sure what the best decision will be without understanding the details of your situation. Keep in mind that accepting a plea bargain does not mean you are getting away scot-free. There will still be consequences to face so do not assume that it is the best or only option you have.

If you are facing charges related to a DUI it is imperative that you hire a skilled attorney. Your lawyer will be your biggest advocate during your case and help you navigate what can be a complex and intricate legal process. They will assess the details of your case and examine the evidence the prosecutor has against you.

Consider a few factors and speak with your attorney when deciding whether or not to accept a plea bargain. Are you actually guilty of violating the law? How much evidence does the prosecution have? How severe are the penalties for the plea bargain? How severe might the penalties be if you lose at trial?

Answer some of these questions with the help of your attorney to discover if the plea bargain is your best option. If the prosecutor has substantial evidence of your guilt and you could face harsher penalties if you go to court, consider accepting the plea deal. If you are not guilty and believe you can prove it you may wish to fight.

 

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