If you have been charged with a crime, it’s important not to automatically plead guilty in order to take what some feel is the easiest route. While you naturally want to avoid a trial when possible, you may still face jail or prison time if you agree to a plea deal, although the sentence will probably be much lighter than it would be if you were found guilty at trial. However, why spend any time at all behind bars or face other punishment if it can be avoided? Never let prosecutors talk you into a plea deal before consulting with a criminal defense lawyer – this is exactly what they want you to do.
Police want to interview you. Although it may be to ask you questions regarding your knowledge of someone else’s involvement in a crime, it is never recommended that you speak with police without first consulting with a defense lawyer. In fact, most will advise you not to answer police questions at all. It is much easier than you might think to say something that incriminates you, and police often put intense pressure on those they’re questioning to get them to admit to something they may not have even done. If the police want to question you, talk with a defense lawyer before you do anything else.
Going to trial is an option you are considering. This is especially true for those who are innocent of the charges against them, as no one wants to plead guilty to something they had no part in. Not only could it result in loss of freedom and a criminal record, your reputation could be ruined forever. In some cases it’s best to go to trial, such as when the prosecutor has insufficient evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. A skilled criminal defense attorney will consider the evidence (or lack thereof), weigh the strengths and weaknesses, and provide you guidance about how to best proceed – whether to proceed to trial, or accept a plea bargain. Additionally, if you do go to trial it is vital to have a capable defense lawyer who will fight vigorously in court to secure the outcome you desire.
Your constitutional rights have been violated. Perhaps you were not given your Miranda warning, or a search was performed without the necessary warrant. There are many situations in which a person’s constitutional rights may be violated, which could result in evidence not being allowed in court. When this is the case, the prosecutor often lacks the necessary evidence to secure a conviction and may drop charges.
Anytime you have doubts, feel you are a suspect, or are of interest to police, do not hesitate to consult with a reputable criminal defense lawyer.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Elizabeth Tuomey
Elizabeth Tuomey has been practicing criminal law for more than a decade in Arlington and Alexandria, Virginia. Graduating from Georgetown University Law Center with a Juris Doctor degree in 2002, Ms. Tuomey focuses on representing clients in drug, DUI, burglary, robbery, assault, forgery, and other criminal cases.