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After a criminal case passes its initial stages, the defendant faces one of the biggest challenges — deciding between going to trial or pleading guilty. While an attorney can offer their assistance at every phase of the lawsuit, including negotiating a plea deal, the defendant ultimately is in charge of making the final decision. Before you plead guilty or go to trial, you should be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Pros and cons of pleading guilty
One advantage of pleading guilty for the defendant is the certainty of the outcome. Before pleading guilty, the defendant may receive a plea bargain, which could result in them facing reduced charges if the presiding judge agrees to the plea deal between the defense attorney and the prosecutor.
Pleading guilty can also be more cost-effective for the defendant in terms of legal fees. If a person anticipates that the jury and judge will find them guilty of the charge, they can save money on the additional legal expenses of a trial by pleading guilty. It is also less time-consuming than going to a trial.
In some cases, the disadvantages of pleading guilty can outnumber its advantages. For example, by pleading guilty, you give up your right to fight against the accusation. This can result in you paying hefty fines, facing incarceration, and having a permanent criminal record.
Even though the prosecutor can recommend the judge to drop or reduce the charges, the judge gives the final ruling. If the judge does not consider a lesser charge as fair punishment for the defendant, they have the authority to impose a more severe sentence and refuse the plea arrangement.
In some cases, if the prosecutor believes that the defendant will plead guilty, they may not enter a plea bargain with them. This results in the defendant losing the opportunity to get a lighter sentence. Some prosecutors might also renege on the plea bargain, extending the legal process.
Another disadvantage of pleading guilty in court is that even though the charges may be potentially reduced, the defendants can lose their right to appeal against the charges.
Pros and cons of going to trial
Trials can go on for several months, which gives the defendant time to prepare for court hearings and work on their defense strategies. It is also a more favorable option for an innocent person to get justice and avoid facing punishments for a crime they did not commit.
Going to trial can also allow the defendant to pursue a better plea bargain as many prosecutors would rather bring a swift end to the case rather than risk losing in court. If the prosecutor is not confident in their evidence, they may extend a favorable deal if they know you are willing to go to court. Finally, going to trial allows the defendant to retain their right to appeal if they lose the case.
A major disadvantage of going to trial is the uncertainty of the process. If the defendant cannot prove their innocence, they risk facing a conviction. How the jury will perceive the case is something that cannot be predicted, which is why there is always a possibility of facing the maximum penalty for the charges in a trial.
Get Advice From Your Defense Lawyer
Even though criminal defense attorneys do not have the authority to make the decisions for your case, they can offer advice based on their understanding of the law and their experience with similar cases. With the guidance of a criminal defense lawyer in Orlando, you can choose the option that carries the most advantages for your case and increase your chances of getting a favorable outcome.
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