If you are charged with reckless driving in North Carolina, you are not being issued a traffic ticket. You are being arrested for a serious misdemeanor offense that could result in harsh penalties if you are convicted.
You should take the charges against you seriously and retain an experienced traffic ticket attorney as soon as possible to help you fight the charges you face. One option you will most likely consider at some point in your case is whether to take a plea bargain. Here’s what you need to know when making this important decision that will affect your life as well as the outcome in your criminal case.
What Penalties Could You Face If You Are Convicted of Reckless Driving?
In deciding whether to accept a plea agreement, it is important to understand the punishments you could face if you plead guilty to or are convicted of reckless driving. Reckless driving is broadly defined to include the following:
- Driving carelessly and heedlessly in willful disregard of the rights or safety of other individuals
- Driving without due caution at a speed or in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger a person or property
- Driving a commercial vehicle, such as a tractor-trailer, that is oversized or overloaded in one of the ways listed above.
Reckless driving is a Class 2 misdemeanor. You could face these consequences if you are convicted:
- Up to 60 days in jail
- Fine not to exceed $1,000
- Driver’s license suspension
- Four points on your driver's record
- Permanent criminal record
What Is a Plea Bargain?
A plea bargain is an agreement between you and the proscecutor. You would agree to plead guilty to some offense in exchange for the agreement of the prosecutor to give you a benefit, such as reducing the charges against you or the sentence you would face.
Benefits of a Plea Agreement for the Prosecutor and Judge
Many reckless driving cases are resolved through a plea deal. There is a clear benefit to the prosecutor and court. They both have high caseloads, and a plea bargain avoids the necessity of a trial. In addition, these agreements usually result in a guilty plea, which the prosecutor would see as a victory.
What You Need to Consider Before Agreeing to a Plea Deal
You should never accept a plea bargain without first consulting with a knowledgeable lawyer. They will help you weigh the benefits and drawbacks of agreeing to it. Some of the benefits may include:
- Avoid uncertainties. You avoid the risks of taking your case to trial if you agree to a plea bargain. You will also most likely know the punishments you will face and may be able to negotiate for less serious penalties.
- Save money. You will save significant money on attorney fees if you resolve your criminal case through a plea deal rather than taking your case to a trial.
- Reduce stress. It can be stressful and time-consuming to go to trial. You avoid these hassles if you enter into a plea bargain.
- Avoid jail. If you agree to plead guilty, the prosecutor may agree to recommend probation, community service, or fines instead of a jail sentence.
- Get charges reduced. Another benefit of entering into a plea deal is that the prosecutor may agree to reduce the charges to a less serious misdemeanor offense or a traffic offense, which would not result in you having a permanent criminal record.
- Obtain a quick resolution. Your case will be resolved more quickly through a plea bargain than if it is decided at trial. This can help you complete your sentence faster and get on with your life.
You also need to weigh the drawbacks of entering into a plea bargain. A few of the drawbacks to consider include:
- You would be pleading guilty to a traffic violation or criminal offense.
- The prosecutor may want to enter into a plea deal because they have a weak case against you. If you fought the charges, you might be able to get the case dismissed.
- You would be waiving your right to raise defenses in your criminal case. Even if you are guilty of reckless driving, you could have strong defenses that could result in you being found not guilty.
- You would be accepting some form of punishment for the offense you are pleading guilty to committing.
- You would have a permanent criminal record if you plead guilty and your reckless driving offense is not reduced to a traffic citation.
Have you Received a Traffic Citation in Charlotte, NC?
If you received a traffic citation, you need to speak with an experienced traffic ticket attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Charlotte office directly at 980.207.3355 to schedule your free consultation.