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Do You Need a Lawyer If You are Going to Plead Guilty?

You always have the right to represent yourself in a criminal case. However, you run a significant risk if you do.

This is particularly true when you plead guilty. After you plead guilty, the judge will set your case for sentencing. Without representation, you have no guarantees about what will happen at sentencing.

Here are some reasons you should consider hiring a lawyer, even if you plan to plead guilty to your charges.

Faulty Prosecutions

Not every prosecutor has an iron-clad case. Many cases have significant legal or factual flaws.

You may want to plead guilty to end the case, serve your sentence, and move on with your life. But you should consider talking to a lawyer before you plead guilty. The lawyer might spot issues in the case against you that could affect your legal exposure.

Some examples of flaws include:

  • Unreliable witnesses or evidence
  • Lack of intent
  • Lack of evidence for one or more elements of the crime
  • Unconstitutional search or interrogation

By spotting these issues before you plead guilty, you might get a dismissal or reduced charges before your plea.

Plea Agreements

The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that 90-95% of criminal cases end with a plea deal. This has become the routine process for resolving state and federal criminal charges. Pleading to your charges means that you do not incur the time and expense of a trial.  It also reduces uncertainty and risk and sometimes results in a more lenient punishment. 

When you take a plea bargain, you maintain some control over how your case gets resolved.

Plea deals have many advantages over simply pleading guilty to your charges, including:

  • Sentencing recommendations
  • Dropped charges
  • Probation instead of incarceration

If you simply plead guilty to the charges, you get nothing in exchange for your plea. But if your lawyer negotiates before you enter your plea, the prosecution might compromise by giving you something you want.

Picking a Criminal Defense Lawyer

Criminal defense lawyers spend a lot of time negotiating plea deals. Experienced defense lawyers not only understand your odds of getting a fair deal, but they also know what prosecutors will accept. To talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney about your prospects for a plea deal, contact Shrader & Mendez, Attorneys at Law. Get started today by going online or calling 813-360-1529.

Posted in Criminal Defense