Do I Need to Hire an Attorney if I Plan to Plead Guilty?
Well, now you think they’ve got you dead to rights. There’s no way out of the mess you’re in, and pleading guilty seems to be your only recourse. If that’s the case, do you really need an attorney?
The answer is a definite yes. Regardless of the charges you are currently facing, we believe strongly that you should never admit to guilt without first obtaining legal advice. Here are the biggest reasons why.
1. When all is said and done, pleading guilty could turn out to have been a huge mistake. You may not think so now, but you could have a viable defense. A careful investigation of your case and a thorough review of the evidence could turn up options that you have failed to consider. For instance, if a member of law enforcement arrested you without probable cause, any evidence found against you during the capture could be inadmissible.
2. If you’ve considered accepting the prosecution’s first offer of a plea bargain, we strongly recommend that you don’t. An experienced criminal defense attorney can work with the prosecutor to negotiate a deal that is more to your benefit. This is particularly possible if:
– Evidence in your favor should turn up to bolster your position.
– In the process of placing you under arrest, law enforcement violated your rights.
– Your criminal defense attorney is skilled at negotiation.
3. If the circumstances surrounding your crime and subsequent arrest make you eligible for a diversion program, an attorney can potentially help you avoid a conviction through participation in one. An agreement to engage in community service, attend classes or spend some time on probation could put you in line for dismissal of the charges against you. If a diversion program might be an option in your case, your attorney will know it and inform you of the fact. The prosecution, for its part, never will.
4. Pleading guilty may have consequences of which you are not aware, and a jail sentence could be just the half of it. Among other things, you could lose your right to vote, suffer higher insurance premiums and carry an onerous criminal record. If your immigration status is shaky, you could also face deportation. A criminal defense attorney will make you aware of these and more potential dangers.
5. Although the prosecution may do its best to frighten you into accepting a plea deal, the charges against you may be extreme or inaccurate, and you do have the legal right to fight them. On the other hand, if you are truly guilty with little hope of coming out on top, your attorney will let you know.
6. If the punishment for an on-the-spot guilty plea is close to what you’d get for receiving a guilty verdict at trial, the prosecution’s plea bargain offer could almost be worse than no offer at all. If the potential punishments are nearly identical, why not take the chance of going to trial and fighting the charges?
7. In your eyes, the prosecution’s evidence against you may appear to be inescapable. However, it may also be inadmissible. If quashing it is at all possible, a criminal defense attorney will know it and take the necessary steps to have it suppressed.
Always remember that regardless of the severity of your crime, you have the right to fight the charges against you in a court of law. At trial, you have an opportunity to testify in your own defense as well as to call witnesses to speak on your behalf. In the end, these testimonies could either exonerate you completely or lessen the severity of any punishment you might face if the court should find you guilty.
It is also important to keep in mind that if a jury should find you guilty at trial, you will have the constitutional right to appeal that decision in a higher court. This option is often stripped from those who choose to enter a guilty plea.
No one can force you to plead guilty, and in choosing to go that route, you are basically demonstrating that you have no interest in defending yourself against the charges. On the other hand, the circumstances of your case might be such that a trial is certain to end in a conviction and subject you to heavy punishment. If you’re sure to be found guilty in any case, agreeing to a plea bargain could shorten or eliminate a jail term and make your ultimate sentence far less severe.
If this should prove to be your most favorable option, we strongly recommend that you retain a lawyer to negotiate the best deal in accordance with the circumstances of your case. Your criminal defense attorney stands as your assurance that any punishment you do receive will be fair and as light as possible.
When you face criminal charges and are thinking of pleading guilty, don’t make a move until you’ve spoken with a criminal defense attorney at Gregory & Waldo. We have helped countless criminal defendants succeed in fighting their cases or negotiating favorable plea deals, and we pledge to bend all efforts to do the same for you.