After someone is arrested, they have many choices to make. They can choose whether to plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest/ nolo contendre. They can also choose whether they want to go to trial, request a jury trial or non-jury trial, and testify at trial.
Those are all very important choices, and they can vary based on the wishes of the defendant, the risk of a trial, and the facts of the case. One choice a defendant should not have to make is whether or not to hire an attorney. People who are planning on pleading guilty after an arrest may believe that they don’t need a lawyer. However, there are many reasons why a lawyer is still necessary for a plea deal.
1. The lawyer knows the system
Criminal defense lawyers spend a lot of their lives in the courthouse where they practice. They know the judges. They know the criminal defense attorneys. And they know the overall process of the criminal justice system.
This may seem like it’s not a big deal, but it is a critical element for the outcome of any case. When a lawyer knows the people prosecuting their client’s case, they are able to have a more open dialogue and ask for a deal that may not be available for an unrepresented individual.
They may be able to predict the way that the judge will feel about the case and whether the judge would sentence harshly, within the guidelines, or give a lower sentence if presented with compelling reasons.
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2. They know how to negotiate
Unrepresented defendants are not able to negotiate on their own behalf. They are usually given a “take it or leave it” offer by the prosecutor in their case. The terms of the plea bargain given to unrepresented individuals are usually the standard punishments for the crime.
They often don’t take into consideration any mitigating factors. That means that a first-time offender may receive the same offer as someone who has much less going for them just because there is no negotiating process.
An attorney, on the other hand, can work with the prosecutor to discuss the defendant’s circumstances and the strengths and weaknesses of the case in order to come up with a fair deal. They can review the initial offer given and make a counter offer until the prosecution and defense are relatively happy with the outcome of the deal.
3. They know the law and the rights of defendants
Sometimes, even though the prosecution and judge follow the law, there are small issues with the way the defendant is treated in a case.
For example, the defendant may not receive all of the evidence used against him. This is the right of the defendant so that he can be aware of what the government is using against him.
In addition, the defendant may not be made aware that he has a right to a trial or that he has a right to confront his witnesses. These rights will be explained to him briefly, but the prosecution and judge will not go into great detail about what these rights mean.
Attorneys are aware of the customary punishment for the crime committed. They also know ways to reduce the punishment if appropriate. They can dispute evidence and collect any additional information that may help their client receive a proper punishment that fits the crime and the defendant’s circumstances.
4. They know when a plea deal is simply not a good idea
While it is always the defendant’s decision whether to accept a plea offer or not, an attorney knows when the prosecution is offering a bad deal.
Unfortunately, not every plea offer is fair for the defendant, and the government is not always amenable to changing its offer. In this situation, an experienced attorney can explain the benefits of going to trial versus accepting the deal. This allows the defendant to make an informed decision and ensures that he truly understands what is on the table.
Without proper representation, a defendant may be talked into taking a deal by the prosecution that isn’t fair to him or her. Or, he or she may opt for a trial in a case where the defense is not good and the risk is high, but the feeling is that there is no other option.
Contact the Law Offices of M.J. Snyder Today
If you or a loved one has been arrested and is considering a plea deal, it is of utmost importance that you contact an attorney to receive adequate representation for your case. While a plea deal can be done independently, an attorney can make sure it is done in your best interests. Criminal cases and sentences affect many aspects of one’s life, including driving privileges, parental rights, financial status, job security and much more. There is too much to risk without an expert to advise you alone the way.
Contact our offices today to be sure that you’re getting the best possible outcome from your plea bargain. Call us at 215-515-3360 for your free consultation!