The criminal justice system can be overwhelming for any defendant. A defendant may have countless questions about procedures and hearings and the process itself. Most defendants, however, are more interested in the substance of their cases. Should they take a plea bargain? Should they go to trial? How much jail time do these possibilities present? And perhaps most importantly: can jail time be avoided by accepting a plea bargain?
Every Criminal Case Is Different
No two cases are the same, and it is impossible to say that a plea bargain is always right, or never right, or best for a particular class of charges. Rather, the decision to accept a plea bargain is a combination of many factors. Criminal defense attorneys help their clients review all these factors, determining which factors favor a plea bargain, and which favor taking the case to trial. This “legal calculus” allows attorneys and defendants to ultimately decide which option is best for each particular case.
Some plea bargains clearly allow a defendant to avoid jail time by simply agreeing that the prosecutor will not request the court to order imprisonment. Probation, community service, and other requirements will function in lieu of jail time to satisfy the prosecution’s need for punishment. Other plea bargains will offer less jail time than the defendant would have faced at trial. The defendant and the defendant’s attorney must then assess the likelihood of being convicted at trial. As an example: a prosecutor offers a plea bargain that calls for five years in prison. If the defendant goes to trial, he would face ten years in prison if convicted, or no years if he is acquitted. If the defendant is likely to be convicted at trial, then he can avoid some prison time by agreeing to the plea bargain. This strategy is almost entirely dependent on the defendant’s chances of being convicted at trial.
Call Our Office to Speak with a Baltimore Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges, you need the skilled legal advice of a Maryland criminal defense lawyer. Attorney G. Randolph Rice, Jr. has decades of experience protecting the rights of criminal defendants in the Baltimore area and throughout the state of Maryland. Call 410-288-2900 to schedule your free consultation today. Learn why Maryland defendants trust the knowledge, skill and experience of Attorney Rice to protect their legal rights during critical life events.