The notion you might hire a criminal defense law attorney to advise you when you plan to plead may sound ridiculous. However, there are several strong reasons to have legal help when entering a guilty plea. These four represent the ones a defendant most likely will have to handle.
Is a Guilty Plea Necessary?
Before considering anything else, you should also ask a criminal defense law attorney whether pleading guilty is even a good idea. A lawyer can review the case and tell you whether the prosecution has a solid case. Taking back a guilty plea is difficult so it's typically better to get an opinion from an attorney,
Negotiating a Plea Agreement
For prosecutors, plea deals are among their most common tools. A plea agreement involves the defense and prosecution writing down what the defendant will admit to doing. The defense usually benefits in this scenario because they expect the prosecution to come in with a lesser charge. However, the prosecutor also benefits by saving time, guaranteeing a win on their record, and reducing the overall cost to the taxpayers.
When you enter a plea agreement, though, you need to consider a few details. Foremost, does a criminal defense attorney think it's the best deal you can get? Lawyers have experience, and they can tell you whether folks in similar circumstances reached similar deals.
Also, a person entering a plea arrangement will want to minimize additional criminal penalties. Someone facing a sexual assault charge, for example, would want to try to avoid registering as an offender if possible. That serves as a penalty that would hang over them after release, potentially inhibiting their ability to find everything from housing to work.
Some plea deals immunize defendants against higher charges, usually in exchange for testimony against other parties. An immunity agreement usually requires the defendant to confess everything or risk charges later. You will want a criminal defense law attorney to review the confession to ensure you didn't miss anything.
The Mercy of the Court
Prosecutors don't have to offer plea deals. If the prosecution has a strong case and doesn't want to negotiate, you could still plead guilty. The idea is to throw yourself at the mercy of the court. Ideally, the judge takes kindly to the admission of guilt and offers a lighter charge or sentence.
Regardless of how the court arrives at a conviction, there will be a sentencing hearing. Even if you plead guilty, you should have a criminal defense attorney present during sentencing. They can present arguments for why a defendant deserves a softer sentence in light of certain factors.
To learn more information, reach out to a criminal defense law attorney near you.