Should I just plead guilty?
Lawrence Taylor (retired) explains why it is a mistake to not hire an attorney and simply plead guilty in a DUI case. There are two main reasons why a person arrested for DUI should hire an attorney and not simply plead guilty. First of all, the arrestee is throwing themselves at the mercy of the court, when no such thing exists. The district attorney will have no mercy for an arrestee who simply pleads guilty. Secondly, the arrestee is pleading guilty blindly. In many DUI cases, there will be problems with the breath machine. Furthermore, there is a lot of information contained in audiotapes, videotapes, dispatch logs, or usage logs that an arrestee will not be able to use to their advantage if they simply plead guilty and not hire a DUI attorney. There are a number of reasons why the person prosecuting the arrestee may reduce the charges or the recommended penalty. Among them is all of the information that the DUI attorney can acquire through discovery, the reputation of the attorney, and his skills in the courtroom.
Well I’m often asked, Mr. Taylor should I just plead guilty in this case? And I guess my answer would be that there is an old saying among defense attorneys and that is, “one hundred percent of all defendants who plead guilty are convicted.” I think there are two good reasons for you to hire an attorney and to not plead guilty. And the first is, that you are throwing yourself on the mercy of the court, or at least that is how you view it. Believe me, after forty years of experience, there is no such thing as the mercy of the court. I can guarantee you the district attorney, who is the primary person you are dealing with, not the judge, is not going to take any mercy on you and he is going to consider you to be easy pickings. Secondly, you are pleading guilty blind; you are going in and saying “I did it and I am pleading guilty,” without knowing anything about what the prosecution has. Understand there may be and almost certainly will be many things wrong with the prosecution’s case. You’re going in and pleading guilty without even knowing if the breath machine were calibrated correctly. Was it maintained correctly? Was it operated correctly? Was the operator, the police officer, properly certified? Are there audiotapes; are there videotapes from the jail area? Is there a dispatch log? Are there usage logs? There are all kinds of things that you want to know before you make a decision, that you want to try to work out a plea bargain and that is vastly preferable, by the way, than just pleading guilty. There are a number of reasons why, a prosecutor, a district attorney, or a city prosecutor, is going to reduce the charges or recommend a reduced penalty. Among them are those things that your defense attorney digs up in the process of discovering all of the problems in the case and, secondly, the reputation of the attorney himself and his skills in trial.