Near the beginning of any formal criminal proceeding, the charged defendant has the option of pleading guilty or not guilty. For some people, the idea of ever pleading guilty to a crime makes no sense. Others may be motivated to plead guilty for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the knowledge that they did in fact commit the crime with which they are charged.
But, no matter what your circumstances are, pleading guilty without speaking to a criminal defense attorney - at the very least one that is appointed by the court (although you should do whatever it takes to seek out an attorney who has the experience, time, focus, and dedication to represent you adequately) - is not a good idea, and can have catastrophic yet often avoidable consequences.
There Are Strategic, Complex Reasons to Plead Guilty
Pleading guilty is not so much saying “I did the crime” as it is saying “there is no reason to go through a full criminal trial.” As uncomfortable as it may sound, plenty of people plead guilty even when they know they did not actually the crime, and others plead not guilty when they know the did.
As a criminal defendant, it is not up to put on the trial or even to make any statement about the crime being charged or your involvement, as is your right pursuant to the Fifth Amendment. The prosecution has the burden of proving every element of the crime charged against you beyond a reasonable doubt. And, depending on your jurisdiction and the crime charged, a unanimous jury may be required to convict you.
When a defendant pleads guilty, this is often the result of a comprehensive analysis by his or her defense attorney of the sufficiency of the evidence brought against the defendant (whether the prosecution can prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt), as well as the potential criminal penalties to be imposed.
Prosecutors generally want guilty pleas to avoid the hassle of a trial (or for other reasons), and so an experienced criminal defense attorney can work out a plea agreement with prosecutors which reduces your criminal penalties (including no jail time) in exchange for a guilty plea, and, in some cases, cooperation with prosecutors.
Get Professional Guidance on Whether Pleading Guilty Makes Sense For You
By speaking with an experienced criminal defense attorney regarding the charges brought against you, your attorney, for starters, can help you determine whether the prosecution even has enough evidence to build a strong case against you. If not, pleading guilty can unnecessarily land you in jail.
If you and your attorney determine such evidence does exist, and there are other reasons to avoid a criminal trial, your attorney can then work on your behalf to negotiate with prosecutors to get the best deal possible in connection with a plea agreement, which can include reduced or no jail time, reduced fines, probation, alternative treatment programs, cooperation, and other possibilities.
Experienced Criminal Defense in Your Oklahoma Criminal Matter
Oklahoma City criminal defense attorney Patrick Quillian is a former Oklahoma district attorney who relies on his years of experience in prosecuting cases to provide the best possible defense for all defendants. If you are facing criminal charges and/or investigation for a felony or misdemeanor in Oklahoma, contact the office of J. Patrick Quillian, Attorney at Law, today at 405-896-9768 to schedule a free consultation to see what his criminal defense team can do for you.