Montana DUI Plea Agreements

A plea agreement is a compromise between the prosecution and the defense. It typically involves the defendant pleading guilty to some charge (often a less serious one than that originally charged), in exchange for other charges being dropped and often a recommendation from the prosecutor regarding sentencing. For example, a defendant charged with DUI and an open container violation might plead guilty to reckless driving in exchange for having the DUI and open container charges dropped. This is just an example of a possible outcome.

In order to enter into a plea agreement, the defendant must be advised that 1) the Court is not bound by plea agreements; 2) if the Court rejects a plea agreement which calls for a specific recommendation jointly made by the prosecution and defense, the Court shall inform the parties, afford the defendant an opportunity to withdraw the plea, and advise the defendant that if the defendant persists in the guilty plea, the disposition of the case may be less favorable than the plea agreement.

However, if the plea bargain does not involve a recommendation by the prosecution (and only an agreement that the prosecutor will not oppose the defendant’s recommendation) – the Court does not have to allow the defendant to withdraw from a guilty plea.

You may have heard the adage that an oral contract is worth the paper that it is printed on, but in Montana – an oral plea bargain is binding. This can be helpful to those charged with DUI when the prosecutor makes an offer he later regrets. But it can be a problem when the defendant regrets his decision later. So remember, always think carefully and consult an attorney before entering into any sort of plea bargaining for Montana DUI.

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