Typically, your first court appearance is called your arraignment and the judge is going to expect a plea. In most cases, we’re going to enter a not guilty plea regardless of whether the person is innocent or guilty. We want to have the opportunity to review all the paperwork, sit down, and discuss it before deciding, strategically, exactly what we’re going to do.
Sometimes, we may have a mind to plead guilty but we don’t want to plead guilty to the particular charges that we are charged with, so we’ll go to the prosecutors and try and get some lesser charges. Other times, we don’t want to plead guilty at all. We want to fight the case. Then, we’re going to take the case to a jury trial, so we’ll enter a not guilty plea and move the case to the next phase.
Factors That Determine Whether A Client Should Plead Guilty Or Not
In order to determine whether I think a client should plead guilty or not, I will review all the paperwork and get the client’s input. I’ll talk to the prosecutor and decide whether or not we need to do some investigation. I’ll send my investigator out if it makes sense, and then we’ll probably be in a position to discuss whether you should take some sort of a deal or fight the case.
The primary factor I look at is the client. What do they want to do? Do they want to fight this case? Do they want to risk more potential punishment or do they want me to go in and try to work out a plea bargain?
If the client committed the crime and we think the prosecution can prove it, then we’re going to be looking to resolve the case by way of a plea bargain. If, on the other hand, the client feels they didn’t do anything wrong, we’re going to push the case to trial and do everything we can to defend them.
Should I Plead Guilty To Avoid The Time And Expense Of Going To Trial?
If you’re innocent, you should never plead guilty under any circumstances. You should put all your resources into defending yourself and making sure that you’re found not guilty. If, on the other hand, the prosecutors have the evidence to prove you guilty, you should let your criminal defense attorney work out a resolution for you.
We all have a right to fight the case if we are innocent. Even if we can’t afford an attorney, we can get a public defender to represent us. The biggest travesty of justice is when people just take a deal because they don’t feel that they can afford to fight. If you’re innocent, you should fight and be found not guilty.
Will My Punishment Be Harsher If I Am Found Guilty Opposed To Taking A Plea?
The way the system is set up to work is that you’re supposed to be offered a plea deal that would be much better than if you took the case to trial and lost. If you’ve got a particularly tough sentencing judge, you probably don’t want to risk going to trial if there’s a good chance you’re going to be found guilty.
If on the other hand, if the judge is fair and reasonable, maybe you do want to take that risk. That’s definitely something you want to talk to your criminal defense attorney about before making a decision.
It is also possible that during the trial you could be found guilty but the judge could feel like there are some mitigating circumstances in the case and take those into consideration, and you could end up with a better deal.
Generally speaking, if the government has evidence in your criminal case, your best bet is to have your attorney work out a deal and move forward with your life.
For more information on Entering A Plea Of Guilty Or Not Guilty, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (213) 542-0940 today.