If you’re facing criminal charges, you probably have numerous questions
and reasonably so. One question that almost every defendant asks, especially
if it’s the first time they’ve been charged with a crime is,
“Who decides if I take a plea or
go to trial?”
If for some reason the criminal defense attorney or the prosecutor and
the defendant can’t agree about whether the case should be resolved
with a plea or at trial, usually the defendant’s desire is what
paves the way.
Regardless of what the
criminal defense lawyer feels is in the best interests of their client, the attorney acts
as the defendant’s agent and they have to carry out their client’s
wishes. However, defendants should not take their attorneys’ advice
lightly. They shouldn’t disregard their lawyers’ suggestions
without putting some serious thought into it first.
If you find yourself disagreeing with your attorney about whether or not
you should go accept a plea bargain, you should ask your attorney plenty
of questions so you understand the reasons behind their advice, and why
they believe you should swing in that direction.
What About Plea Bargains?
You may not be aware of it, but the majority of criminal cases across the
country are resolved through plea bargains. A plea bargain can be offered
by the prosecutor and it can be offered by the defense. But like the decision
to go to trial, it is up to the defendant to accept a plea bargain or
to offer one.
A prosecutor can offer a plea bargain and the defendant can refuse to accept
it and vice versa. If both sides are gridlocked and neither side can reach
an agreement, the case will proceed to trial.
Whenever a prosecutor offers a plea bargain, the defendant’s attorney
is required to relay the offer to their client. The defense attorney cannot
keep it a secret. Of course, it works both ways. If a defendant has an
offer to make, his or her attorney has the duty to relay the offer to
the prosecution, even if they don’t agree with it.
If you’re facing criminal charges before you make an important decision
about your case, you are entitled to know what your choices are, and while
no lawyer can accurately predict the outcome of a case, your attorney
should explain the possible consequences of each alternative.
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