Plea Deals Can Let You Take Your Lumps But Keep Your Sentencing Fair

By F. Clay Merris, Esq.

In my experience, people charged with crimes often believe that they must either plead guilty as charged or take the case all the way to a trial.  They do not understand the options that are available in plea negotiations.  The prosecutor has the authority to reduce, drop, or even replace charges in an effort to reach a resolution short of trial.  Criminal defendants can, in some circumstances, plead guilty to charges with which they were not even initially charged.

One example of an area in which I have been successful with this in the past is when someone with a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI).  District Attorneys recognize that a CDL driver’s first DUI conviction will lead to PennDOT suspending the driver’s CDL for one year, and a second conviction will lead to a lifetime disqualification of one’s CDL privileges.  In light of that, they will sometimes be willing to offer a plea deal wherein the CDL driver pleads to Recklessly Endangering Another Person instead of DUI.  Recklessly Endangering Another Person is found in the criminal code rather than the vehicle code and is essentially what it sounds like – the individual has engaged in conduct which places or may place another person in danger of death or serious bodily injury.  Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol obviously fits this charge.  A conviction for Recklessly Endangering Another Person does not cause any license suspension – CDL or otherwise.  It is important to understand that prosecutors may not be willing to offer this kind of plea in most cases.  It is imperative to demonstrate to the prosecutor why the individual charged is deserving of this kind of plea consideration.  This can often be accomplished by showing the prosecutor that the individual has no prior criminal record, has a spotless driving record, has addressed any potential drug or alcohol issue with counseling, or has made significant contributions to the community in the form of volunteering or engaging in charitable acts.  An experienced criminal defense attorney can identity the factors most likely to convince a prosecutor to reduce or replace charges in a way that benefits the person charged and mitigates the impact of a criminal conviction.

If you need help defending your CDL contact Scaringi Law, at 717 657 7770.



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