By WILLIAM FRANCIS
Of the hundreds of people who are charged with DUII and other traffic crimes in Jackson County every year, most will plead guilty. Many will plead guilty to enter diversion, thinking that if they do this, their DUI will be erased from their record at the end of a year.
It may be a long time before they realize their mistake.
Others think they will be punished if they tell a judge they're innocent. Or, they believe they have to get into a court-sponsored diversion program immediately, at their first court appearance, or they will lose the chance to plead guilty and go into diversion later.
Unfortunately, these assumptions are incorrect.
It's a Mistake to Plead Guilty at Your First Court Appearance
The criminal justice system encourages people who have no experience in the law to make mistakes. Nice people are usually at a severe disadvantage.
It's normal for anyone to feel remorse, confusion and embarrassment after getting a DUI or being charged with any other crime. But it is a mistake to go to court and plead guilty or enter a diversion program at your first court appearance.
If you have been arrested or cited for DUI in Oregon, the best idea is to have an attorney go to court with you, or appear on your behalf, at your first appearance date. Our judges allow plenty of time for persons charged with DUI to decide what to do.