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Considering Plea Deals in Maryland DUI Cases

A guilty plea means that an individual accepts responsibility for a DUI case and accepts the fact that the state has enough evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
If you are facing charges for impaired driving, considering plea deals in Maryland DUI cases can be a difficult decision to make without the assistance of a skilled DUI lawyer.

Causes of a DUI Trial

A defense attorney might encourage a client to enter a plea of not guilty in DUI cases where they believe their client was unlawfully stopped in conflict with the Fourth Amendment. This means the person was asked to stop outside of the car not in accordance with the Fourth Amendment or there was not sufficient probable cause to place the person under arrest based on the field sobriety test. There might also be issues with the breathalyzer test results when considering plea deals in Maryland DUI cases.

Pleading Guilty

After a person enters a plea of guilty, sentencing takes place and the judge determines the appropriate punishment for a case. After considering plea deals in Maryland DUI cases, many arguments can be made with respect to leniency, how significant the punishment should be, and what consequences might take place against the person’s driving privileges as a result of the judge’s sentence. A great deal of litigation continues even when a plea of guilty is entered.

When a person believes the state has enough evidence to prove them guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and the consequences would be worse if they enter a plea of not guilty rather than take the resolution negotiated with the state. That might be an appropriate time for the defense attorney to advise the client to enter a plea of guilty and withdraw the plea of not guilty.

Pleading Not Guilty 

When a person pleads not guilty, they choose to not relieve the state of their burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. They choose to have a trial where the state must have witnesses to prove their case against the individual. The person has the opportunity to call witnesses of their own to testify in their defense when considering plea deals in Maryland DUI case.

When someone does not plead guilty, and a judge or the finder of fact finds the person guilty, the person’s attorney could issue probation before judgment on the client’s behalf. It is unusual for a person to plead guilty at an arraignment. The circumstances under which they would receive probation before judgment or probation are determined by the judge at a sentencing just like in any other litigation.

Pleading No Contest or Nolo Contendere 

The individual considering plea deals in Maryland DUI case can see pleading no contest as an option, but only if the prosecution and the court agree and accept that plea. Pleading no contest means that a person does not agree with the evidence brought against them. However, they believe that they do not have enough evidence or a strong argument to surmount proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Circuit Court vs. District Court

Circuit court cases hear felony matters or matters that are appealed from district court. District court appeals hear any kind of misdemeanor case or small-scale felony theft cases. Circuit court handles all felony cases such as murder, rape, arson, armed robbery, burglary, large-scale theft cases, crimes of violence, and things of that nature.
General district court holds many misdemeanor cases and some felony cases as well. Misdemeanor cases include minor possessions of marijuana, trespassing, other minor possessions of controlled dangerous substances, DUI cases, and low-level theft cases even if they are felony-level and are over $1,000 but do not constitute large-scale thefts.

Maryland District Court Judges vs. Maryland Circuit Court Judges 

There is an application process to select general district court judges. Various panels meet to determine which judges are appropriate. A judicial selection committee makes recommendations to the office of the governor who appoints judges they consider appropriate to the court after the qualification process.

DUI charges are treated seriously by district court judges in Maryland as well as anywhere else in the country. DUIs are considered crimes that could harm the driver and the community. The court wants to send a message to the community that driving drunk is not tolerated and people will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Circuit court judges in Maryland tend to treat considering plea deals in Maryland DUI cases seriously. Usually, they only hear DUI charges on appeal as opposed to district court judges where DUI charges have their original jurisdiction. Because of the severity of impaired driving charges in Maryland, it is highly recommended the individual facing charges consult with an experienced DUI attorney.

Judge Practices

The screening process for circuit court judges is different because of the complexity and nature of circuit court cases versus district court cases. The criteria for circuit court judges is familiarity with the circuit court system and experience with practice in circuit court. Judges without any experience in circuit court, or applicants with no experience in circuit court cases are unlikely to be selected as a judge for that particular reason.

Circuit court judges can come from many practices. Some judges have criminal law experience as prosecutors or defense attorneys. There are family lawyers that become judges who have experience practicing family law such as custody or divorce. Family law is a hot issue; a highly-contested issue. All family cases, for the most part, have jurisdiction in the circuit court. There are judges from other backgrounds as well.

Case Resolution

Cases usually go through a process of plea negotiations with the defense to make determinations about what kind of resolution they can offer short of a trial. Trials can be time-consuming for all parties, defense as well as state, and they are expensive. It is in the interest of all parties to come to a resolution on cases for judicial economy. There are extensive discussions with the prosecution to resolve the matter before the court date.

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