Should I Plead Guilty or Not Guilty?
Here at Dutko Law, we offer defense lawyer services for a variety of different cases. Whether you’re facing a DUI or assault charges, we’re here to help you. If you’re wondering, “Should I plead guilty or not guilty?” reach out to us. We can talk with you and discuss your best moves going forward. There’s much more to this decision than whether or not you’re guilty. There are pros and cons and different possible outcomes on each side, whether you decide to plead guilty or not guilty. The decision is ultimately up to you, but our law office can help you make a decision that is well-informed. It is important to remember that each case is different. But our local law firm in Lehigh and Berks counties can help you find the best option for you.
Pros to Pleading Guilty
There are times when your defense attorney can set up a plea bargain for you. This is an arrangement between a prosecutor and a defendant. Your criminal defense attorney will try to negotiate and get a lighter sentence. Negotiating a plea bargain is good for the prosecution, too, because it saves the state the amount of money the trial would have cost. In a plea deal, you’ll probably have to enter a guilty plea for one charge, and the other charges will be dropped or lessened. But you shouldn’t try to arrange a plea bargain before speaking to a professional lawyer and getting their advice.
A simple guilty plea can look a lot better on your record than the results of going through a trial, losing, and getting hit with a heavy sentence. If you get convicted again in the future, your past crime can come back up. And a small misdemeanor on your record can look better than a felony. Also, you must give up some professional licenses when you have a felony conviction. If you are living in the United States on a Visa, or you have a green card — being convicted of a felony or violent crime can lead to deportation. Your defense lawyer may also be able to get a reduced sentence to something that isn’t as offensive socially. For example, you may be facing sexual assault charges, and your criminal attorney might negotiate them down to assault charges.
Going to Trial
There’s uncertainty involved in going to trial. You never know what the jury will decide, and the prosecutor may be able to dig up some incriminating evidence on you. Additionally, a guilty plea will save you time and money. You won’t be written about in the paper or seen publicly in court for a lengthy trial. Some criminal trials can last for months or even years. Going through a lengthy, stressful process like this can be a lot. If you’d rather just get it over with quickly, entering a plea bargain might be the right choice for you. Also, the more time that your defense attorney spends on your case, the more money you’re going to be charged. You may be able to save thousands of dollars with a quick guilty plea.
Cons to Pleading Guilty
You’re giving up your rights to a plea bargain, a trial, testing the state’s evidence, calling witnesses, testifying, and appealing the trial results. When you decide to plead guilty, you’re immediately convicted of the crime — even if you are innocent. The sentencing process can go more quickly too. So, all of a sudden, you may be on your way to jail without having any time to get your affairs in order. The judge gets to just set your sentence, as long as he or she stays within the minimum and maximum sentence.
Even if your sentence doesn’t include jail time, a criminal record will stick with you for the rest of your life. It might cause you to lose your job. And potential employers may see the conviction in your background check and decide to go with someone else. Similarly, when people start to hear that you were convicted of a crime, it can affect your social life. If you face a civil trial, like a divorce or child custody battle, your conviction can be used against you.
Pros to Pleading Not Guilty
If you’re wondering what happens if you plead not guilty, you’ve come to the right spot. When you decide to go to trial, you’ll actually have some time to work with your lawyer and build up a defense. Dutko Law can go through all the evidence thoroughly to make sure the police put everything together properly and recorded it. And we can evaluate the strength of the prosecutor’s case is.
Plus, under the United States Constitution, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Really, the criminal justice system was designed for people to plead not guilty instead of guilty. If you’re actually innocent of the crime, a not guilty plea is your only way to get justice and avoid criminal charges. Meanwhile, some plea bargains will do very little to help you out. If the prosecutor thinks you’re just going to plead guilty anyway, they may not offer you much of anything.
Cons to Pleading Not Guilty
When you go to court, your future is put into the hands of the jury, which can be very unpredictable. If the judge and jury find you to be guilty — this can be some real trouble for you. You’ll be facing the maximum possible punishment for the crime.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding the pros and cons to a guilty plea or not guilty plea, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We understand that there’s a lot to consider when you’re deciding “Should I plead guilty or not guilty?” Dutko Law proudly offers legal services in Berks and Lehigh counties. We professionally handle drug and DUI cases as well as family law, and our team will work hard for you. We want your legal situation to end with the best possible results. The only way to achieve that is with the help of an experienced legal representative. Contact us today for more information or a consultation.