Plea Bargaining and Sentencing

Many times a plea bargain agreement in a DUI-DWI case will involve sentencing or punishment recommendation by the prosecutor. In such instances it is important to obtain the approval of the proposed sentence by the court prior to the entry of a guilty plea by the defendant and to enter the entire plea bargain agreement on the record. Otherwise, the defendant may have no recourse should the court impose punishment that is harsher than that recommended in the agreement. Plea bargaining agreements are also used in many states to enable a defendant to retain his or her driving privileges after the disposition of the case. That plea bargaining promises made by the prosecution are enforceable. That it is constitutionally permissible for the prosecution to file additional charges if the defendant refuses to plead guilty to the charges as filed.

It occasionally happens that a defendant will plead guilty to a misdemeanor drunk or impaired driving offense, either as part of a plea bargain agreement or otherwise, before the prosecutor learns of a prior conviction against the defendant that would have enhanced the misdemeanor offense to a felony or higher misdemeanor. As long as the defendant does not misrepresent his or her record to the prosecutor, it has been held that a prosecutor is barred by the doctrine of double jeopardy from later filing the enhanced offense against the defendant in such a situation, because the defendant has no duty to inform the police or prosecution of his or her prior record.