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3 protections you lose by pleading guilty to a DWI

When facing a charge for a DWI in St. Louis, it is important to let reason and common sense prevail instead of fear and intimidation. A criminal charge is not the same as a conviction. Unless a guilty verdict is reached, you have rights and the presumption of innocence on your side as long as you do not plead guilty. Regardless of how much evidence you think there is against you, it is possible to overcome a DWI charge. One of the first things you can do to improve your situation is to protect your rights by not giving them up. 

It may seem like the fastest way to deal with a DWI charge and move on is to plead guilty or "no contest" to avoid trial. Though that is often the quickest route to resolution, it is not a decision you should make lightly, especially if you want to minimize the consequences and long-term impact of drunk driving or operating-while-under-the-influence charge. Below are a few of the rights and protections you lose by pleading guilty to a crime. 

1. Protection against self-incrimination

Everything you say and do from the moment of your arrest until the time of sentencing is subject to law enforcement scrutiny and can become evidence to secure a guilty verdict. Entering a guilty plea strips you of this valuable right/protection and can potentially increase the consequences you face and lead to additional charges. 

2. Ability to file an appeal 

A trial conviction is not the end of the road. If you go to trial and end up with a conviction, you have the right to file an appeal. A guilty plea forgoes the trial. If there is no trial, there is no avenue for appeal and the possibility of having a DWI conviction overturned or to receive a lesser sentence. 

3. Shifts the burden of proof from the prosecutor 

In a trial, prosecutors must use the evidence, their knowledge of the law and all relevant resources. In other words, they must prove beyond a reasonable doubt you are guilty. This burden of proof is not easy, especially in DWI cases, as many factors can affect the outcome of a case.

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Travis Noble is a graduate of the National College for DUI Defense at Harvard University, and he lectures at seminars nationwide on DWI/DUI topics. He is the lawyer whom other lawyers consult to defend their DWI clients. Most importantly, he has a track record of successfully defending some of the toughest DWI cases in Missouri and beyond.

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