Should You Plead Or Go To Trial On Criminal Charges In Federal Court?
One of the dilemmas that many defendants facing federal criminal charges encounter is whether to plead guilty or to go to trial. If you have been accused, you’ll be wondering what the pros and cons of either decision are. Although many federal cases result in a guilty plea, you might want to fight for your freedom since you believe the government is wrong for the charges it is pressing against you. When in such a situation, you need a lawyer and for that matter a seasoned lawyer who will help you make the right decision.
If you consult different lawyers, the chances are that you will end up with different advice on what you should do. So, the ultimate decision on whether to plead guilty or go to trial should be made by the defendant, but a lawyer will provide sufficient advice that will help the defendant know how to approach the case. With the right lawyer, you will be in a better position to receive the deserved sentencing since he or she understands the federal sentencing guidelines and how they can be applied in your case. It is the role of the lawyer to ensure that the defendant is received the fairest sentencing.
In case the defendant and the lawyer cannot agree on the same position, it is the decision of the defendant that will prevail. However, if the lawyer considers the decision by the defendant illegal or an ethical, the lawyer can make the decision or formally withdraw from the case. A defendant should not however stubbornly refuse to listen to the lawyer’s advice since the latter understand legal matters better than they would. The defendant should ask questions that will help them understand why the lawyer believes a particular decision is the right one.
In a case where the defendant is supposed to decide on whether to take a plea or go to trial, it is the role of the defense lawyer to pass the defendants decision to the prosecutor or the pass an offer from the prosecutor to the defendant. It is not the role of the defense lawyer to determine whether an offer from the prosecutor should be accepted or not. Again, the lawyer can only offer counsel to the defendant, but the defendant will make the ultimate decision.
Taking a plea
Before the defendant can take a guilty plea, they must understand what alternatives are available and the likely consequences of taking the plea or the alternatives. When the prosecutor agrees to create an offer, the defendant and the attorney should determine whether they’ll take the plea immediately or take it later or even refuse to take the plea and go to trial. Before coming to any of these conclusions, the likely consequences of each should be discussed thoroughly. The defendant should be in a position to understand whether by taking a guilty plea now will result in a better deal than a pleading closer to the trial. Also, the defendant will want to know whether by pleading guilty he or she will be getting lesser sentencing than one that would be arrived at in case of a trial conviction.
The above considerations can only be made through prediction. No lawyer can tell with certainty that taking one option will result in lenient sentencing. However, is the role of the attorney to ensure that the defendant has been offered sufficient advice on the consequences of taking it that guilty plea or going to trial.
In a plea bargain, the prosecutor and the defendant make an agreement where the defendant will plead guilty for some or all charges pressed against them in exchange for a concession from the prosecutor. Some of the reasons why plea bargaining is done are to allow the prosecutor to focus on other cases while at the same time reducing the workload for the judges. A guilty plea is seen as a way of helping the defendant avoid facing with unknown consequences at trial. By agreeing to go to trial, you might end up with the maximum conviction yet you could have received better sentencing had you pleaded guilty. When one agrees to a guilty plea, they must waive the right to appeal the conviction unless there are issues of law that need to be a looked out. When you waiver your right to appeal, it automatically means that you agree to the bargained sentence. However, it is important for defendants to understand that a judge can alter the request in a plea bargaining agreement.
Why choose plea bargain over a trial
Some of the reasons that make a plea bargain the better option include or less cost, less time consumption, lesser chances of maximum conviction among others.
Matters of a guilty plea or going to trial are grave and need a highly credible attorney to offer advice. You need an attorney who is in a position to negotiate for the best deal with the prosecution. Although the defendant will make the final decision, an attorney can offer vital advice to help the defendant make the right decision.