Not all criminal cases are subject to trial. A majority of the cases are settled by offering the defendant a lighter sentence if he or she pleads guilty. Every criminal case is distinct. However, there are some aspects of plea bargaining that are similar in most situations.
Here’s a list of the things you should know about this process.
- Things to think about before taking a plea deal.
The prosecutor will try to convince you that it’s the best deal you’ll ever get. He will emphasize that your sentence will be harsher if you decide to undergo trial. Make sure that you understand the following facts before accepting a plea bargain:
- Jail time is serious business no matter how short it is.
- A conviction will negatively affect your record, as well as your immigration status.
- You will waive a lot of your rights in the case.
- You may not be able to make an appeal for your conviction.
- Who decides on what plea should be entered?
The defendant has the right to decide whether to plead guilty, not guilty or no contest. Criminal lawyers can only give advice. They cannot override your final decision.
- The rights a defendant loses upon accepting a plea.
When you accept a plea bargain, you give up the following rights:
- Go to a jury trial
- Cross-examine witnesses against you
- Provide evidence in your favor
- Appeal rights
- Ability to challenge validity of a plea bargain
- Withdrawing a guilty plea.
It is hard to withdraw a guilty plea once you’ve already accepted a plea deal. A motion needs to be filed in court in order to change your plea. It is up to the judge whether or not he will grant your motion. The judge will check the following aspects:
- If you have a valid claim of innocence
- If the process has been fair
- The reasons why you want to change your plea
- The effect of the result of plea bargaining to the state’s criminal case.
- Is a lawyer needed for pleading guilty?
The process may seem easy: you just sign paperwork then your case is already resolved. A lawyer is not needed to enter for plea bargaining. However, only an expert lawyer can accurately evaluate your case and the deal being offered. He or she will also make sure that your rights are always protected. If you want to plead guilty for a crime charged against you, contact a criminal law attorney as soon as possible.
Written by Kellie Bertels, an attorney at Bandre, Hunt and Snider in Jefferson City, MO. Bandre, Hunt and Snider are the best attorneys Jefferson City MO have to offer.