If you’re wondering if your criminal case will go to trial, I want you to know that by far, the majority of criminal cases do not make it to trial. While some cases don’t make it to trial because charges are dismissed or because a motion to suppress evidence is accepted by the judge, most criminal cases are resolved by plea bargains. This isn’t just the case in Florida, this is how it is in all states across the board.
“When do criminal cases go to trial then?” Typically, a case only goes to trial when the defendant and prosecutor cannot agree on an issue, or when they cannot reach an agreement through a plea deal. If the defendant was innocent and wrongfully accused for example, it would make no sense to force him or her to accept a plea bargain.
Attorneys Are Defendants’ Agents
While the defense attorney is representing the best interests of the defendant and acting as their agent, in the end, the decision to accept a plea bargain or go to trial is the defendant. But before a defendant makes any decision, he or she should listen to their attorney’s advice and fully explore the consequences of each of their options.
As I mentioned, it’s up to the defendant to decide whether to accept a plea bargain or take their case to trial. In any case, the defense attorney has duties to their client. The attorney has the ethical obligation to relay a prosecutor’s offer to their client, and if the client wants to make a specific offer, to relay it to the prosecutor. Regardless if the defense lawyer believes an offer is “good,” he or she must relay it to the other side.
What Should You Do?
If you find yourself in the position where you’ll be facing a plea deal before you make any decision about it, make sure your defense attorney fully explains each of your alternatives and as reasonably can be predicted, the probable consequences of each alternative.
If you’re offered a plea bargain, or your lawyer is thinking about offering one to the prosecutor, ask your attorney, “What are my options? What are the consequences of each option?” Consider what could happen if you plead guilty now, plead guilty later, or refuse to plead guilty and take your case to trial.
It’s important to realize that sometimes it can be hard for a lawyer to give you perfect information about the consequences of each option. Nevertheless, your attorney should be able to give you as much information as he or she can about the likely consequences of your options. Armed with as much knowledge as you can get, you can make the best decision for your particular circumstances.
If you are facing criminal charges, contact my Miami criminal defense firm for a free case evaluation. With over 30 years of experience, I can help you.