If you are facing criminal charges and you believe obtaining a not-guilty verdict is out of the question, you may be wondering if you should even attempt to defend yourself or hire a criminal defense attorney. The short answer is a resounding “yes!”
The U.S. criminal justice system presumes every defendant is “innocent until proven guilty,” meaning the prosecution’s job is to prove that you are guilty by proof “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which is a high standard. By contrast, the job of a criminal defense lawyer is to protect the rights of the defendant throughout the case and ensure he/she has a fair trial – rather than prove a client’s innocence.
If you are thinking about pleading guilty at your arraignment, which is the first court hearing, the prosecutor may not have conducted a thorough investigation into your case. Therefore, you may lose an opportunity for the prosecution to offer you a favorable plea agreement. Likewise, your criminal defense attorney may not have a comprehensive understanding of the facts and circumstances surrounding your case to determine if you should go to trial or accept the plea agreement.
Remember, if you plead guilty at arraignment, the next step of the legal process is sentencing. The judge only has discretion to decide what sentence to impose, which is often the maximum allowed by law. Pleading guilty also means you will never have a chance to see if there was valid defense to your charges, whether the police violated your constitutional rights during your arrest, of if there are weaknesses in the prosecution’s argument against you.
By contrast, if you plead not guilty at the hearing, you give your attorney ample time to review the case, determine your available defenses, and even file motions to suppress certain pieces evidence.
Although you may feel uncomfortable about telling your attorney everything (i.e., the good, the bad, and the ugly), he/she needs to know all the information surrounding your case to develop an effective and personalized defense strategy to either get your entire case dismissed or reduce the charges/penalties you face. Furthermore, attorneys must maintain lawyer-client confidentiality, so they will not reveal anything you tell them without your consent.
If you or a loved one has recently been arrested in Miami, FL, contact The Hoffman Firm today at (305) 928-1669 for a free initial consultation. Let a former prosecutor with nearly two decades of experience defend you against serious criminal charges.