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.