Why You Need a Defense Attorney Even if You Want to Plead Guilty
Only a small percentage of criminal cases ever go to trial. Some are dismissed at a preliminary hearing, but most are settled through a brokered guilty plea, often called a plea bargain. When the charges against you seem minor or when the evidence is overwhelming, you may assume that a defense attorney can do little for you. However, with good reason every defendant is entitled to counsel even if his or her case never goes to trial. Having an experienced attorney on your side can protect your rights whether you intend to plead guilty or want to take your case to a jury.
You should consult an experienced attorney before deciding to plead guilty to any type of criminal charge for many reasons, including the following:
- Weaknesses in the case against you could provide leverage during plea negotiations or even lead to an acquittal or dismissal.
- Even strong cases require government resources to prosecute. Prosecutors are usually willing to negotiate for a plea. In fact, agreeing to a plea without negotiating usually means that the accused receives a harsher sentence than necessary.
- The complex Pennsylvania Sentencing Guidelines can be challenging to interpret. You may have difficulty recognizing a good plea offer if you do not understand these guidelines and what they dictate under your circumstances.
- You may have alternatives available, such as ARD, STOP, DUI Court or Drug Court.
- Your guilty plea may have unanticipated consequences, such as license suspension or immigration problems.
Trying to negotiate a plea agreement without an attorney or, even worse, agreeing to plead guilty without any negotiation can seriously compromise your rights and lead to more serious consequences than necessary and appropriate. Even if you do not plan to fight your charges, a Reading, PA defense attorney can safeguard your rights.