Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Brad Smith answers the question: “Should I ever plead guilty to a charge?”
What Should I Plead in a Criminal Case?
Criminal charges can range greatly in severity and may be misdemeanors or felonies. If you have been charged with a crime, you need to take it seriously. The way you plead can impact the way the case evolves and can make a difference in the outcome and effect it will have on your life. Every defendant in a criminal case attends a hearing where they will learn the charges and provide a plea. You must tell the court how you wish to plead in the case. A knowledgeable criminal defense attorney will explain your options so you can make the best possible decision.
Understand the Charges
It is essential that you understand the charges against you before you enter a plea. Keep in mind that the charges may be different than the ones that were originally stated at the time of your arrest. The prosecutor will review the details of the case and evaluate the evidence thus far to decide on the exact charges to bring against you. Therefore, it is extremely important to know the severity of the charges and the potential penalties if you are found guilty. An experienced criminal defense attorney will assist you in this part of the case and in defending the charges.
Three Main Pleas to Criminal Charges
There are three main options when it comes to how you plead to the charges against you. These include guilty, not guilty, and nolo contendere.
A plea of guilty means that you agree that you committed the criminal act that is being asserted by the prosecutor. A guilty plea ends the criminal case against you, and the next step will be sentencing for the crime. A plea of guilty is often utilized when a defendant accepts a plea bargain. Plea bargaining offers you a way to accept guilt for a lesser crime so you will obtain a reduced sentence than if you were guilty of the original offense.
Not Guilty Plea
A plea of not guilty means that you do not admit guilt for the crime. A not guilty plea means that you wish to exert your right to a trial in the matter. The not guilty plea is likely the most often utilized plea, particularly at the start of a case. A not guilty plea sets the wheels of justice in motion, and the case will proceed with pre-trial hearings, motions, and a trial.
A plea of nolo contendere is also known as ‘no contest.’ This is a plea in which you accept the consequences of the crime without actually admitting guilt. Such a plea might be desirable when the penalties for a particular crime are minor or when you wish to end the case as quickly as possible. A no-contest plea simply means that you do not admit you committed a crime but are ready to accept the punishment.
Being charged with a crime is a serious problem in your life and one you cannot ignore. Every case is different and has a unique set of circumstances. It is helpful to talk to a skilled criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. If you or a loved one was arrested for a crime, don’t delay. Contact our legal team at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, at (704) 370-2828 for the help you need.
The criminal defense attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC make it their mission to zealously defend their clients on a wide range of criminal matters at both the state and federal levels. These matters may include any charge from traffic offenses; DWI/DUI; drug charges (from simple possession to possession with intent to distribute and trafficking); gun permit denials; weapons offenses; and property crimes (larceny, breaking and entering, robbery, fraud, embezzlement, white collar offenses); to sexually related offenses (indecent exposure; sexual assault, crimes against nature, removal from sex offender registry); and violent crimes (domestic violence; assault; manslaughter; homicide, murder). Other legal issues that Arnold & Smith, PLLC criminal clients may face include restraining orders, restraining order and probation violations, expungements; appeals; and immigration issues related to criminal charges. Our criminal defense attorneys are passionate about ensuring that individuals empower themselves by being informed about their constitutional rights and stand at the ready to fight in defense of those facing criminal charges.
plea bargaining | Definition, Types, History, & Facts | Britannica
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