Sometimes it can seem easier to just plead guilty to a charge and move on, especially if the prosecutor is telling you how much jail time you will face if you get convicted at trial. However, it is rarely intelligent to put in a guilty plea unless you have had an experienced attorney review your case. This is why you should meet with a Mercer County criminal defense lawyer from our firm before you make any big decisions.
When Do I Have to Plead Guilty or Not Guilty?
You should be given your chance to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty at your first court appearance. If you plead guilty, that is basically it for your case. The prosecution will decide on your punishment.
When you plead not guilty, you get a date assigned for your future trial appearance. Now you get the chance to defend yourself and show that you did not commit the crime you were accused of.
When Should I Meet with a Defense Attorney?
You should, ideally, meet with a defense attorney as soon as you have been arrested for a crime. Do not talk to the police. Instead, use your Fifth Amendment right and stay silent. You do not want to say anything that could incriminate you.
Your defense attorney can review your case and advise you on the best path forward. They can look at the evidence against you and negotiate with the prosecution. Having a knowledgeable attorney by your side is a better idea than going it alone.
Is It Ever a Good Idea to Plead Guilty?
So should you just never plead guilty to a crime? While it usually is not an advantageous move, there are some situations in which pleading guilty can be advised.
The best time to plead guilty is when your attorney has negotiated a plea bargain. This is a deal made with the prosecution that drops some of the criminal charges against you in exchange for you pleading guilty to a lesser charge. Let’s say that you get charged with a DUI, but the prosecution says that the charge will be dropped if you plead guilty to reckless driving, a lesser charge. This could be one situation in which pleading guilty and avoiding the risk of a conviction is wise.
What Other Consequences Are There to Pleading Guilty?
You should know that pleading guilty to crimes can have other consequences though. If you have a professional license of some kind, pleading guilty could affect your standing in your industry or career field. A guilty plea could also affect you if you are currently in the country on a visa. Your attorney can advise you on your best option.
Schedule a Consultation With Our Defense Lawyers
If you are facing criminal charges, you need to take them seriously. Contact the Law Office of Douglas Herring and meet with an experienced criminal defense attorney. We can look at your case and tell you more about what you should do next.