Being charged with a crime, whether it’s a felony or misdemeanor, is a serious matter that should not be taken lightly. Conviction of a criminal offense can carry many different consequences, such as jail time, fines, community service, probation, and a permanent criminal record. If an individual is convicted of a felony, he or she may be precluded from getting certain types of jobs, lose his or her right to vote, be unable to own a firearm, and have other restrictions on the way he or she lives.
What Is a Plea Bargain?
A plea bargain is an agreement in which a person who has been accused of a crime agrees to plead guilty in return for the prosecutor recommending a lesser sentence or reducing the severity of the offense.
Understanding the Risks of Trial
Going to trial can be risky. The fact-finder, either a judge or a jury, can act in an unpredictable manner. An experienced criminal defense attorney who has been to trial on numerous occasions will have a solid understanding of one’s likelihood of success if a case were to go to trial. Not surprisingly, more than 90 percent of cases are settled; it is rare for a case to make it all the way to trial.
When people are called as witnesses, there is no way to predict what they might say. There can be many surprises, such as the introduction of new evidence. Judges also exercise a great deal of discretion in their ability to control proceedings, and this can harm a defendant.
When Taking a Plea Makes Sense
An experienced trial attorney will be able to help a defendant gauge whether taking a plea bargain is in the defendant’s best interest. In some circumstances, conviction may be inevitable. Taking a plea for a lesser offense may make sense if it means less jail time. Taking a plea for a misdemeanor when the state has enough evidence to charge a defendant for a felony may also make sense.
Although the decision to take a plea ultimately lies with the defendant, it is critical that the defendant makes the most informed decision possible after fully understanding the risks involved. Only a seasoned criminal defense attorney will be able to help a defendant understand his or her chance of success if a case goes to trial.
Call a Criminal Defense Attorney in Baltimore Today to Discuss Your Case
At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, we provide clients with competent and zealous representation. We fight to ensure our clients are afforded proper due process and offer free initial consultations. We handle all types of criminal cases, both felonies and misdemeanors, in Baltimore County and the surrounding areas. Call (410) 694-7291 today to discuss your charges.