Plea or Trial? What is best for me?
Deciding whether to enter a plea or take a case to trial can be scary, confusing, and complicated. With the help of a highly experienced criminal defense trial attorney, it is possible to make a fact-based, legally sound decision that leaves you confident you made the right decision.
A plea may or may not be in your best interest. Here is what you need to know.
Facing charges for a felony or misdemeanor in Michigan is one of the most vulnerable situations, and enlisting top legal representation is a smart first step. Developing a strategy for proceeding once you’ve been accused of a crime is crucial. A winning defense strategy requires the experience and knowledge of an experienced attorney. Knowing whether or not it’s in your favor to plead guilty or go to trial depends on many factors that you cannot know due to your inexperience with the justice system, which is why a reputable attorney on your side is well worth the investment. Furthermore, an experienced attorney only recommends a defense strategy by thoroughly reviewing your case, any possible defense, and all the evidence against you.
There are pros and cons associated with pleading guilty and going to trial.
It’s essential to weigh all options before making a decision. Some advantages to pleading guilty in court include a reduced sentence or avoiding time behind bars altogether. Pleading guilty to a crime you did not commit is a hard pill to swallow; however, many lawyers will attempt to manipulate a client into entering a plea too quickly to resolve a case or avoid a fight.
Heading to trial to assert your innocence has its benefits too, and it’s wise to thoroughly discuss your case with an attorney before choosing this option. An attorney can help you develop a defense strategy to prove your innocence and point out if law enforcement acted illegally in your arrest or their investigation. An experienced lawyer who has worked with hundreds of clients in similar situations and can use their expertise to give you a sense of where you stand. Going to trial may bring additional costs, including attorney fees. Considering that your freedom is on the line, there must be a cautious and thoughtful “cost vs. benefit” analysis. You will build a solid defense with your attorney that hopefully ends with a “not guilty” verdict, clearing your name and legal background for good!
Factors to Consider When Deciding Between a Guilty Plea and Trial
There are many factors to consider when deciding whether to plead guilty or go to trial. Some of the most important factors include:
- The strength of the evidence against you. If the evidence against you is strong, you may be more likely to get a favorable plea deal by pleading guilty. However, if the evidence against you is weak, you may have a better chance of winning at trial.
- The severity of the charges against you. If you face serious charges, such as a felony, you may be more likely to want to go to trial to avoid a lengthy prison sentence. However, if you are facing less severe charges, such as a misdemeanor, you may be more likely to want to plead guilty to avoid the hassle and expense of a trial.
- Your prior criminal record. You may be more likely to be convicted at trial if you have a previous criminal record. This is because the prosecution might be able to use your prior record as evidence of your guilt.
- Your personal circumstances. If you have young children or other dependents, you may be more likely to want to plead guilty to avoid the disruption, stress, and expense of a trial. You may also want to consider your financial situation, as a trial can be expensive.
Whether to plead guilty or go to trial is a personal decision. There is no right or wrong answer, and the best decision for you will depend on your individual circumstances. If you are facing criminal charges, speaking with an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss your options and get personalized advice is essential.
“Why would someone want to plead not guilty and take their case to trial?”
An innocent person might choose to risk taking a criminal charge to a jury trial for several compelling reasons. First and foremost, a trial by jury represents an opportunity to present their case to a diverse group of individuals from the community who can assess the evidence and make an impartial judgment. It allows the defendant’s legal counsel to thoroughly scrutinize the prosecution’s case, cross-examine witnesses, and challenge any weak or unreliable evidence. By opting for a jury trial, the innocent person seeks to demonstrate their innocence, hoping that a fair and unbiased jury will vindicate them. Moreover, facing a trial may provide an opportunity to shed light on the flaws in the investigation or expose any potential misconduct by law enforcement or the prosecution. While a risk is involved in taking a case to trial, someone might believe that the possible consequences of accepting a plea deal for a crime they did not commit are too severe or unjust. By opting for a jury trial, they maintain their integrity, protect their rights, and hold steadfast in their belief that truth and justice will prevail in the end.
“Is it more likely someone convicted at trial will serve jail time?”
The Defense Team with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. is frequently asked whether someone will more likely serve jail time if convicted at trial instead of by plea of no-contest or guilty. According to a Vera Institute of Justice study, defendants who go to trial are 63% more likely to be sentenced to prison than defendants who plead guilty. There are several reasons for this, including:
- Prosecutors are more likely to offer favorable plea deals to defendants who plead guilty.
- Judges are more likely to impose harsher sentences on defendants convicted at trial.
- Defendants who go to trial are more likely to be found guilty.
It is important to note that these are just statistics, and many factors can affect the outcome of a criminal case. Our lawyers can review your case, determine your options, and help you decide on the best defense strategy. We have the skill, experience, and savvy to negotiate an extraordinary plea bargain if you want to pursue a settlement. Conversely, if you take the case to trial, our trial attorneys will tenaciously fight for an acquittal! No matter what path you choose, we have your back!
Collateral or Indirect Consequences of a Criminal Conviction
Suppose a plea bargain is offered to reduce a felony to a misdemeanor or take charges under advisement. In that case, someone considering whether to plead guilty weigh a conviction’s indirect or collateral consequences at trial. Beyond the immediate legal penalties and societal stigma, a criminal conviction can have lesser-known collateral or indirect consequences that profoundly impact an individual’s life.
One of the most pervasive effects is the difficulty in securing stable employment. Many employers conduct background checks, and a criminal record can lead to automatic disqualification or prejudice during hiring. As a result, individuals with convictions often face restricted career opportunities and reduced earning potential, perpetuating the cycle of poverty and potentially pushing them back into criminal activities. Additionally, a conviction can lead to housing challenges, as landlords may be hesitant to rent to someone with a criminal history, leading to unstable living conditions and increased homelessness risks. Furthermore, those convicted of certain crimes may face restrictions on professional licenses, educational opportunities, and even the right to vote or serve on juries, further marginalizing and isolating them from society. These collateral consequences highlight the importance of considering rehabilitation and reintegration measures for individuals who have served their sentences, aiming to reduce recidivism and foster a more inclusive society.
Top Defense Lawyers Who Can Help You Decide Whether to Plead Guilty or Go to Trial
If you have been charged with a crime in Michigan, now is the time to make sound, logical decisions, which is easier said than done. Enlisting the representation of a reputable, zealous, and fearless Michigan criminal defense attorney is the first step in the right direction that will make all decisions easier moving forward in the process.
You should have the best legal representation possible to be confident you are making all the right decisions relative to your defense. The Defense Team with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. has many decades of experience and an unparalleled track record of successful state and federal court representation. Whether you plan to plead guilty or go to trial, we can work with you to determine your best options and achieve an extraordinary result.
Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete an online Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.