At What Point In The Criminal Process Is A Plea Of Guilty Or Not Guilty Submitted?
A plea of guilty or not guilty is not usually submitted until well into the criminal process, because there first needs to be a determination as to whether the state has the ability to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In order to make this determination, all discovery must be reviewed, which includes police reports, video reports, witness statements, victim statements, hospital reports, and lab reports. It’s important to make sure that everything has been thoroughly reviewed before pleading one way or the other, because once a plea has been made, it is difficult to reverse.
What Does Discussing The Case Prior To A Plea With A Client Entail?
During a discussion with a client prior to a plea, the attorney should review all options and make an evaluation as to the strength of the state’s case and what course of action would be in the client’s best interests. In some cases, the state will not make an offer worth considering, or the risk of losing trial outweighs the benefit of winning at trial. An experienced attorney should be able to consider a case holistically and decide which action would provide the greatest benefit for the client.
What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages To Pleading Guilty In A Case Right From The Start?
An individual should enter a plea of guilty at the start of a case only if they are doing so in order to avoid the repercussions of not pleading guilty right from the start, such as a much more serious charge or punishment. For example, if someone were driving under the influence of alcohol when they caused an accident that resulted in someone’s death, and the state charged that person with DUI as opposed to reckless homicide, then the individual may consider immediately pleading guilty to DUI in hopes that the state would later be barred from bringing more serious charges.
Due to the enforcement of something called mandatory joinder, the state cannot pick and choose what they’re going to charge someone with once that person has already pled guilty. This, however, is not iron clad; there’s some case law that has not adhered to this due to the existence of certain elements in cases.
Once someone pleads guilty, they will always be admonished by the judge and usually asked whether or not anyone has threatened them into making the guilty plea or if there is any reason why the plea should not be considered voluntary. An individual’s response to those questions will be on the record and very difficult to undo. This is one reason why it’s very important for an individual to be very sure in their decision to plead guilty. It is somewhat of a misconception that people have 30 days to withdraw their plea because even though the judge will say that, there would have to be a viable reason in order for a plea to be vacated. In other words, an individual’s plea would never be vacated simply on the basis of them having changed their mind.
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