During a criminal case, a plea of guilty might be preferable to other plea deals. Learn about working with an attorney during your case.
Studies show that nearly 98% of all criminal cases end in plea bargains. Plea bargains are a vital part of the justice system and something that any defendant should think about during their legal proceedings.
But what is a plea bargain, and why would you want to enter a plea of guilty? More importantly, how can a defense lawyer help you during your guilty plea?
If you’re curious about criminal defense lawyers and entering a guilty plea, we’re here to help. Read on to learn more about pleading guilty, plea bargains, and handling your legal defense. We’ll also highlight the necessity of a criminal defense lawyer for your case.
What Is Pleading Guilty?
To begin, let’s highlight what pleading guilty means.
Put simply, pleading guilty means that the defendant is confessing to all crimes they’re being accused of. The opposite is to plead “not guilty,” which is to reject the allegations against you. Afterward, a prosecutor will work to prove you are guilty, while your defense will work against them.
Guilty pleas are often called “nolo contendre.” The phrase is derived from a Latin phrase which is roughly translated to “I do not wish to contend.”
Why Enter a Plea of Guilty?
Why would a defendant want to plead guilty to their crimes? Wouldn’t this end a trial outright, since the defendant confesses responsibility for what they’re accused of?
A defense lawyer has many reasons to suggest pleading guilty. Furthermore, a skilled defense lawyer can often aid you better under a nolo contendre rather than a not-guilty plea.
Here are some of the benefits of pleading guilty.
Trial litigation takes much longer than most people assume. The length will depend on the amount of charges, their severity, and the type of crime.
For example, a federal criminal trial will take longer than a state criminal trial. Due to this variation, it’s difficult to put an exact average to how long a trial can take. Many estimations place federal trials at about half a year or longer.
In many cases, the defense may choose to enter a guilty plea to make this process go quicker. They may believe that there’s little to no chance of being found not guilty, making it preferable to end the trial as quickly as possible.
By doing so, the accused can begin serving their sentence immediately. Whether it’s best to spend six months in jail or six months on trial and then six months in jail is up to you and your defense team.
While your trial goes on, you’ll need to spend money on your defense. The expenses may include travel, food, room & board, or paying for your defense team. If your criminal defense attorneys are expensive, it’s not beneficial to continue to add to the bill.
Due to this factor, many people choose to plead guilty to cut out the months of paying their attorneys. If someone cannot afford a trustworthy lawyer, this will also factor into their reasoning.
One of the first things to discuss with your defense lawyer is what sort of deal you can get out of your plea. These deals are most often referred to as “plea bargains.”
A plea bargain is an arrangement between a prosecutor and the defendant. In this agreement, the defendant pleads guilty to a lesser charge rather than not guilty to a more egregious charge. In exchange, they’re given a more lenient sentence and still punished for their crime.
For example, your defense lawyer’s plea bargain could move your punishment from time in prison to community service. They could also lower your sentence in exchange for probation or house arrest.
Naturally, this depends on the specifics of your trial and crimes. A plea bargain isn’t always guaranteed or accepted. If someone’s crimes are severe, they may not have the chance to lower their charges.
Attorney’s Duties During a Plea of Guilty
Now that we understand some of the reasons to plead guilty, do you need a lawyer for the process?
Lawyers are invaluable during your legal proceedings. Here are some of their duties during your trial.
Understanding Your Case
Your lawyer’s first responsibility is to understand the ins and outs of your case.
Every detail of your case is crucial, even smaller ones that seem unimportant to you. Your lawyer understands how these details can change the ruling, affect the jury’s opinion of the defendant, and more.
Speak with your lawyer about your case and do your best to be up to date on any changes. That way, you ensure a healthy line of communication between yourself and your lawyer.
Understand the Jury
Furthermore, it’s critical for your lawyer to have an understanding of the jury. Your defense is meant to sway the jury in your favor or cast doubt on the accusations against you.
Since you’re entering a guilty plea, this is less necessary, as the jury knows you’ve committed the crimes. Instead, your lawyer will work to get them to have more sympathy toward you. By doing so, they can often secure a lower or more lenient sentence.
Read the Prosecutor and Judge
Finally, your attorney’s duties include understanding the prosecution team and the judge. By understanding these parties, your defense lawyer can tailor your case around what would work for them.
Lawyers and judges often work together frequently on many different cases. Due to this familiarity, your lawyer knows how to shift your case in ways that the judge will allow. They also understand what the judge has less tolerance for and can behave appropriately in jail.
These three factors are exceptionally difficult for you to handle without training or representation. Speak with your criminal defense lawyers about understanding the details of your case to stay informed. Attempting to handle these tasks by yourself will often hamstring your case.
Handling Your Guilty Plea
A plea of guilty is often put into place to save time and effort, as well as seeking a plea bargain. Having skilled and professional criminal defense lawyers ensures your case will be handled expertly.
Interested in seeking justice in your case? Request a free case evaluation to see how we can help you.