In March, we covered a story involving a Berkeley County deputy that had lost his job due to an accident that had occurred the previous May. The accident was a little more serious than the average fender-bender, causing minor to possibly moderate injuries, but the injuries weren’t the reason why this deputy lost his job.
In this case, the deputy had been driving the vehicle under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident. The arrest report indicated that the man had told officers that it was his girlfriend that was driving the SUV. He also told his insurance company that alcohol was not a factor in the case, when evidence indicated otherwise.
Why are we revisiting this case now? The officer recently entered into a plea agreement that prompts another important discussion related to DUI cases.
A plea agreement is a common tool used in criminal cases, and it can be beneficial to the defendant. In this case, the former deputy was able to dismiss four criminal counts as a part of the plea agreement. Three of these were felony counts of submitting fraudulent claims to an insurance company.
In exchange, the former deputy agreed to plead guilty to DUI causing bodily injury and two counts of providing false information to police. The agreement was still under consideration of the court at the time of the Herald-Mail Media report.
We can’t assume whether this was the best option available in this specific situation under these specific circumstances. What we can say is that this is a prime example of a time in which having an experienced defense attorney on your side is so important.
While there isn’t necessarily ill intent behind the plea offering, prosecutors are primarily concerned with their interest in closing the case with a conviction.
A defense attorney will consider the agreement from only the perspective of the best interests of the client. While the final decision lies in the hands of the client, the attorney can ensure that the client is fully educated concerning the benefits and the consequences associated with pleading guilty.
Source: Herald-Mail Media, “Former Berkeley County deputy pleads guilty on charge of DUI causing bodily injury,” Matthew Umstead, April 28, 2014