A criminal defendant billed for a trial can decide to proceed or plead guilty to avoid trial. While the defendant’s attorney can advise them on the advantages and disadvantages of proceeding with the trial, the client makes the ultimate decision. Before pleading guilty, a criminal defendant should know the advantages and repercussions of this decision and other alternatives to pleading guilty that may be available.
Pleading guilty may land you time in prison, but it could be cost effective. A criminal defendant who hires a private lawyer will save a considerable amount in attorney fees by pleading guilty. A plea bargain is less stressful, and attorneys typically spend fewer hours perfecting it. If you are truly guilty and your lawyer says your chances of being acquitted are slim, it may be wise to go this route.
Pleading guilty can also save you the time of a trial. A trial may take several months or years to complete. Since you cannot predict your fate, the waiting period can be traumatic and dreadful. Many criminal defendants dread the commencement of trial. Further, the trial may be longer than predicted. An appeal can also make the process longer even if the court finds a criminal defendant guilty.
We asserted earlier that a criminal defendant should seek help from their attorney before deciding to plead guilty because there are many downsides to pleading guilty before trial. The consequences of pleading guilty to a crime immediately include:
Pleading guilty before the commencement of trial hastens your sentencing. Plea bargain cases go through the judicial system quickly. It may be bad for individuals who need time to put things in order.
Sentencing may translate to many months or years in prison. A conviction can alter their life even if a criminal defendant does not get a long sentence. For instance, you managed to maintain your job when they charged you, but you may lose your job immediately after your conviction.
Many convicted criminals may feel the consequences of their actions immediately. For instance, convicted criminals may have to forgo their professional licenses. It will be challenging for such a person to secure a job subsequently, especially if it is a felony case.
One may also lose vital friendships since some people do not wish to engage with persons involved in criminal activity. Certain convictions may become one’s albatross in civil proceedings, like child custody or divorce. If you can be acquitted, it is better to proceed to trial to remove any likely stain on your reputation.
Criminal defendants have alternatives to a jail sentence through a deal with the court or a plea bargain. For instance, some persons opt for a diversion program if they are first-time criminals. “The essence of this diversion program is to remove the case from formal documents for the defendant to rehabilitate without the stigma or stain of a criminal conviction.” says attorney Thomas Addair of Addair Law.
If a prosecutor sees your hastiness to plead guilty to a less serious crime, they will pedal down on entering into a plea bargain with you. Many prosecutors always look for plea bargains in criminal cases. Hence, pleading guilty to a crime before the hearing will remove all the incentives for such an agreement.
A plea bargain will offer you better terms and conditions than a guilty plea. In some circumstances, a criminal defendant should proceed to trial to have a more favorable agreement subsequently.
The authorities may blot out the information after the defendant passes the program. Other alternatives include group therapy, alcohol counseling, community service, and vocational training. One must strictly follow the rules of alternative programs.