When you are up against criminal charges, the pressure to plead guilty can be motivated by many things. You may believe that your guilt is a foregone conclusion and the accusation alone is enough to stain your reputation. You may have been told by law enforcement that your cooperation will lead to a lesser sentence. You may worry about the cost of hiring a lawyer.
The truth is, regardless of what you plan on pleading, you need to have a lawyer representing you. Trying to go through this process alone will almost inevitably lead to your rights being trampled and a harsher sentence. Let’s discuss what a criminal defense attorney might be able to do for you.
A Criminal Lawyer Can Reduce Your Charges
If pleading guilty is truly right for you, it is not as simple as you might think. You must agree to the terms of a plea bargain. A plea bargain, essentially, is the ‘deal’ that you’ll be offered in exchange for a guilty plea. Without representation, you are at the mercy of the prosecution. They will set the terms of the bargain, and it will rarely be built with your best interests in mind. You will likely walk away with a deal that is ideal for them and not for you.
With a criminal defense attorney negotiating a plea bargain for you, you can be sure that your interests are being protected and that someone is fighting for the best outcome for you. An experienced lawyer can change the charges you are pleading guilty to or even have you plead “no contest.”
A Criminal Lawyer Can Reduce Your Sentence
Even if you plead guilty, you need an attorney to help you fight for the shortest possible sentence. Because every case—and every defendant—is unique, sentencing can be less straightforward than you might assume. Prosecutors are known for seeking the harshest penalties for criminal cases. Without a criminal defense attorney looking out for your interests during the plea bargain process, you are likely to face a longer sentence.
Some of the factors that affect sentencing:
- Past criminal history
- Severity of the crime
- Circumstances surrounding the crime
- State and local guidelines
A Criminal Lawyer Can Get Your Charges Dropped Completely
In an effort to avoid wrongful convictions, the standard of proof in criminal cases is high. You should never forget that, when your case begins, you are presumed innocent. The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty. If you don’t understand the tactics commonly used by prosecutors or how they plan to argue your guilt, it’s almost impossible to know how strong their case is.
The job of a criminal defense attorney is to help you understand your odds and to uncover weaknesses in the prosecution’s case. In some circumstances, it is possible to have the charges against you completely dropped. If key evidence was obtained unlawfully or if there are other instances of law enforcement or prosecutor error, an experienced attorney can file a motion to suppress evidence or a motion to dismiss the charges. The goal is to introduce enough doubt to make prosecutors want to avoid a lengthy and costly trial that they might not win.
Arrested in Prince George’s County? We Can Fight for You.
The team at Gracia & Mintz includes a former deputy sheriff and two former prosecutors. Our unique background gives us valuable insight into how the other side works and how they will build their case against you. If you are facing criminal charges, we will work tirelessly to protect your rights and secure the best possible outcome for you—even if you plan to plead guilty.
We’ve helped thousands of clients navigate the criminal justice system in Maryland and DC. Call 24/7 to see how we can help you too. We offer a FREE consultation: (301) 842-8584.