Not Guilty Definition
A finding of a judge or jury at the conclusion of a trial that the prosecution did not prove all the elements of the crime charged beyond a reasonable doubt. In some cases, the judge or jury is permitted to consider a lesser included offense if the defendant is not guilty of the charged offense. If the defendant is found not guilty of all charges, they are discharged from the court’s jurisdiction, and the court returns any bond posted.
How can I plead “not guilty” at arraignment if I committed the crime?
Regardless of guilt or innocence, the best approach for the defendant is to plead “not guilty” at arraignment so that all of their rights are protected and preserved. Prosecutors and judges will negotiate with the defense to resolve a case. If a defendant admits guilt at the arraignment, they lose their ability to negotiate for reduced charges and a lenient sentence. A skilled defense lawyer can often substantially improve their client’s situation, even if there is overwhelming evidence of guilt, if given the opportunity to intercede on their behalf.
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