The Importance of Understanding the Terms of a Guilty Plea in New York DWI Cases

After a New York DWI arrest, chances are you are not thinking about a guilty plea, and for good reason. You can contest many DWI cases, either due to insufficient evidence of intoxication or the arresting officer’s questionable actions leading up to your arrest. However, in some DWI cases, police officers followed all the rules and the evidence against you is overwhelming. In these situations, when the prosecutor approaches you with an offer, you may start to consider it, rather than risk the uncertainty of taking the case to trial.

Just because a prosecutor makes you an offer, either for a lesser offense, or an agreed-upon sentence, does not mean they have doubts about the strength of their case. Prosecutors will often cull through their cases, trying to figure out which ones are the most worthy of their limited time. If they see a case with strong evidence in their favor, they make you an offer so they don’t need to spend the time to prepare the case.

However, before you accept an offer requiring you plead guilty to a New York DWI offense, it is critical that you consider all the implications of accepting the offer. Generally, once you enter a guilty plea, you have a very limited time to ask the judge to withdraw your plea. If you miss that window, the conviction is final, and you are extremely limited in your options. For example, consider a recent DWI case decided by a state appellate court.

In that case, the defendant was arrested after operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs and leaving the scene of an accident. However, the prosecution offered the defendant a plea agreement, under which he would plead guilty to the lesser common-law offense of driving under the influence. A driving under the influence offense is only appropriate when a defendant is under the influence of alcohol. The court also imposed other agreed-upon penalties, including a $300 fine.

After sentencing, and after the time had passed to file a motion to withdraw his guilty plea, the defendant filed an appeal. In his appeal, the defendant argued that the court lacked jurisdiction to accept his appeal because the offense he pled guilty to (driving under the influence) was unsupported by the evidence (because the defendant was under the influence of drugs). The defendant also raised other issues, including that the judge did not advise him of all the possible immigration consequences of a driving under the influence conviction.

The court rejected the defendant’s appeal, noting that he did not request to withdraw his guilty plea. Nonetheless, the court went on to reject each of the defendant’s arguments. Specific to the defendant’s main contention that the court lacked jurisdiction to accept his plea, the court explained “a defendant can plead guilty to a crime for which there is no factual basis and even plead guilty to a hypothetical crime.” Thus, the court affirmed the defendant’s conviction and sentence.

Have You Been Arrested for a New York DWI Offense?

If you were recently arrested and charged with a New York DWI crime, contact the Law Offices of Mark A. Siesel for immediate assistance. Our firm consists of experienced criminal defense lawyers who handle all types of drunk driving cases. As both skilled negotiators and aggressive litigators, we can effectively negotiate on your behalf in hopes of securing a favorable offer but will not hesitate to take your case to trial if the prosecution is unwilling to make a fair offer. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation, call 914-224-3086 today. You can also reach us through our online form.

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