How Should I Plead In My Traffic Case?
Many potential clients ask me “How should I plead?” Unfortunately, I can’t answer that without first examining every aspect of the case. This video explains a little about the different plea options and how we decide together what you should plead.
I had this video transcribed for visitors who prefer to read the content.
Hello, I’m Andrew Flusche. I am a Virginia traffic attorney. One question I get from prospective clients, that is a little bit frustrating, is “How should I plead? Should I plead guilty, should I plead not guilty?” It’s a question I can’t answer off-the-cuff like that.
The problem is that question depends upon all the facts and circumstances of your case. What I do as an attorney if you hire me, is we look at all the elements of your case that the Commonwealth is going to have to prove against you and we see if they can prove them. Because if they can’t prove an element, or if there is a question of whether or not they can – maybe one is a little sketchy on their end- then we would definitely want to plead not guilty. We would want to make them have to do their job and prove it, and maybe they can’t prove it. We might be able to get you found not guilty if they can’t prove every single piece of the case beyond a reasonable doubt.
But the problem is that I can’t know if the Commonwealth has their evidence in your case unless I’ve looked at all the evidence and talked with the officer and talked with the prosecutor and then, and only then, will we know what plea we should enter.
The other choice of plea would be no contest. Honestly with a lot of cases, with traffic cases like reckless driving and speeding and things like that, a lot of times the officer will have all their evidence in order and the case is more of a question of negotiation, trying to get a better result from the prosecutor or the judge. In a case where just the judge is involved, in a lot of those cases where the evidence is in order, I would probably advise my client to plead no contest. But that’s only after me looking at the evidence, and talking with the officer and knowing for sure that they have their evidence in order. Then we would say no contest because that’s saying we’ve seen the evidence, and we’re admitting that they have the evidence to prove the charge they’ve levied.
The final plea that would normally be entered is guilty. Guilty is a little bit different than no contest. What guilty says is “yes, I did what I am accused of.” There is a difference between saying that the Commonwealth has the evidence to prove what they’re claiming, versus “yes, I did what I’m accused of.” That’s the way I like to think about no contest versus guilty, and most of the time, I wouldn’t plead a client guilty unless as pursuant to a plea agreement with the Commonwealth and they’re reducing the charge or giving us a really good outcome that we might not get from the judge.
So that’s just a little taste of the different plea choices and why it’s impossible, without knowing all the facts of the case and talking with the officer and any witnesses, to make a good decision and advise a person about how they should plead. This is why it’s super important, if you have any kind of traffic case, whether it’s reckless driving or speeding or DUI or driving on a suspended license, to talk with a traffic attorney. I’m here in Spotsylvania County and I practice in Stafford County, Fredericksburg City, King George County and the surrounding areas, and I would love to speak with you about your case, give you a free consultation, and see what we can do and maybe give you at least a little idea about what kind of plea might make sense. But of course we can’t know for sure until we talk with the officer and any other witnesses.