Some may think practicing your right to a free trial is your best option when faced with criminal charges. However, more than 90% of criminal matters are resolved by plea bargains resulting in guilty pleas. In fact, unlike with your right to remain silent, your attorney may actually discourage you to practice your right to a free trial and encourage you to participate in a plea bargain.
This may seem backwards, but your lawyer is still trying to help you. When prosecutors file charges, they do so only after reviewing the case and assuring that it is highly likely that they can prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. Additionally, if the prosecution feels they have a strong case for one or two charges, they may add several weaker charges to the case. Therefore, going on with a trial can be dangerous. First of all, if they can get you convicted on the more reliable charges, it's more likely that you'll be convicted of the weaker charges as well. Secondly, if you're convicted of all charges as the prosecution will be pushing for, then their sentencing suggestion is going to be very high, making it more likely that the judge will accept that suggestion. This is typically when plea bargains come into play. If the prosecution can convince the defense to enter a guilty plea, the case is an automatic win for them.
Other risks of going to trial include the judge and jury hearing emotional testimonies of any victims or witnesses of the crime and detailed evidence presented by the prosecution, all of which can largely sway the judge and jury.
So why would your defense attorney suggest playing into the prosecution strategy and entering a guilty plea? For prosecution, the goal is to get a conviction, and they will do what it takes to get there. Unfortunately, as the charged individual, the odds are stacked against you. If you take a plea bargain and plead guilty, your incentive is a lighter sentence suggestion or the dismissal of other charges from the prosecution, which is typically going to be far better than the max sentence or conviction on all charges. Additionally, personal presentations of testimonies and evidence will not be included in the case without a trial. Though the judge still makes the final sentencing decision, they are typically respectful of an individual taking responsibility of a crime and tend to take the suggestion of the prosecution or at least go lighter on sentencing.
Entering a guilty plea is no easy decision and should only be made after thorough consultation with your attorney and careful consideration. For more information or to schedule a consultation, give Kevin Stockstill a call today.