When you’re facing the reality of being charged with a DUI, understanding all of the options available to you is an imperative part of the legal process. One such option is plea bargaining. Plea bargaining is an agreement between the accused and the Crown prosecutor where both parties agree on a specific outcome for the case. Today, we will discuss your options for plea bargaining for a DUI in Ontario and what is required from you to make a successful plea.
What is a Plea Bargain?
First, let’s define exactly what a plea bargain is.
A plea bargain is an agreement between the accused and prosecutor, where both parties agree on an outcome for the case instead of going to trial. In exchange for pleading guilty, certain charges may be dropped or reduced, or sometimes even the sentence. To make a successful plea bargain, both sides must accept the agreement in court. In some cases, a plea bargain may be rejected entirely if the evidence against the accused is too strong.
DUI Plea Bargaining in Ontario
In Ontario, there are two primary outcomes for DUI cases that go through plea bargaining: reduction of the criminal charge or having the charges completely dropped. That is, if the plea bargain isn’t rejected to begin with.
1. Reducing the criminal charge
In the first case, if you agree to plead guilty to a lesser charge than that which was initially laid against you (such as careless driving instead of DUI), then your sentence will likely be lighter than it would be for the original charge. For example, careless driving may result in a fine and/or probation, whereas a DUI conviction can lead to jail time and a criminal record.
2. Having the charges dropped
In some cases, it may be possible to have the DUI charge completely dropped. To take advantage of this, the accused must often be able to prove there were special circumstances at play that contribute to why the charge should be dropped. This could include proving the officer who pulled you over did not have reasonable cause for a stop or that your rights were violated in some way. This highlights the importance of working with an experienced criminal defence lawyer in Ontario to ensure you have the best chance of getting your charges dropped or reduced.
How to Get a DUI Plea Deal in Ontario
To begin the plea bargain process, you should consult with an experienced lawyer in Ontario who has extensive knowledge and experience in DUI cases. Your lawyer can advise on which plea might be most suitable for your particular case and prepare all of the necessary documents required to make a successful plea. Once you have agreed upon a plea bargain, your lawyer will present the agreement to the court for approval.
Occasionally, the Crown may propose a plea bargain to your defence lawyer that includes reduced charges or a more lenient sentence. Keep in mind, you are under no obligation to accept any plea deal put forth by the Crown, and you should only agree to one if it aligns with your best interests.
Is Pleading Guilty A Good Idea In Some DUI Cases?
Ultimately, your decision to pursue a plea bargain for DUI in Ontario will depend on a variety of factors, such as the strength of the evidence against you and whether or not there are special circumstances at play. However, some guidelines can help you determine when it might be best to pursue a plea bargain and plead guilty to lesser charges rather than take the case to trial.
(Learn more about Canadian criminal trials next)
For example, suppose you feel there is enough evidence against you to make a conviction likely at trial. In that case, it might be best to plead guilty in exchange for lesser charges or a lighter sentence.
Additionally, some judges may be more lenient on those who willingly accept responsibility and plead guilty rather than going through the lengthy criminal trial process. Ultimately, whether or not accepting a plea deal is right for your particular situation should be discussed with an experienced lawyer in Ontario.
What are the Benefits of Not Pleading Guilty to DUI Charges?
There are some scenarios in which pleading not guilty to DUI charges may be the best course of action. For example, if you believe that the evidence against you is weak and there are special circumstances at play, then proceeding to trial may offer a better outcome for your case. Additionally, it may be possible to negotiate a plea deal after trial has begun in order to reduce the charges or sentence.
In some cases, going through with a criminal trial can also result in an acquittal (the case being dismissed) and provide an opportunity for appeals if you disagree with the outcome. That said, mounting a successful defence at trial requires extensive legal knowledge and resources. With that in mind, it’s important to consult with an experienced lawyer before making any decisions on how to proceed with your case.
Plea Bargaining for a DUI: FAQs
Here are three of the top questions people have about plea bargaining for a DUI in Ontario:
What is the best plea bargain for a DUI in Ontario?
This depends on the facts of your particular case and the strength of the evidence against you. In particularly serious cases, getting the charges reduced can be a big win. In others, having the charges dropped entirely is the best reasonable outcome.
How do I make a plea bargain for a DUI in Ontario?
After consulting with your lawyer, you can determine the most appropriate type of plea for your case, and your lawyer will draft all of the necessary paperwork to submit the agreement to the court. Upon agreeing to a plea, your lawyer will petition the court to review and approve the plea agreement.
What is the best defence for a DUI?
The optimal defence strategy for a DUI charge hinges on the specific details of your case. For example, potential defences may include mistaken identity, insufficient evidence to corroborate the charge, or a claim that your rights were violated during the investigation. Your lawyer can analyze all of the facts and circumstances surrounding your case to devise the most effective defence possible.
Ultimately, it’s important to remember that plea bargaining for a DUI is not necessarily an easy process. It requires careful consideration and should only be done with the guidance of experienced DUI lawyers in Toronto who understands the nuances and complexities of these types of cases. The team at KIVLaw is here to provide you with the legal advice and representation you deserve. Contact us today to learn more about your options for plea bargaining in Ontario.