In the United States, the right to trial by jury is considered so important that it's mentioned in both Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution, and again in the Sixth Amendment. For most criminal cases, the decision of whether or not to take the case to trial is ultimately in your hands. Since trials cost the judicial system both time and resources, they seek to resolve the majority of criminal charges in the pretrial negotiation phase. This is the stage at which the prosecution may offer a plea bargain.
Not sure how to plead? Schedule a free consultation with our experienced defense attorney today.
What Types of Charges Can Go to Trial?
Although the Sixth Amendment states that you have the right to a public trial "in all criminal prosecutions," the Supreme Court has since interpreted this to refer only to "serious" criminal offenses.
The benchmark to consider an offense as "serious" is that it must:
- Either carry a potential sentence of more than six month behind bars, or
- The sum of the penalties must carry enough weight to be considered "serious."
Should I Accept a Plea Bargain?
Every criminal case is unique, and the decision to accept a plea bargain rests entirely in your hands. Your defense attorney will make their recommendations, and advise you on what they feel is the best decision. They can also be heavily involved in the pretrial negotiation process, working with the prosecutor to negotiate a more favorable deal.
At the end of the day, however, you must choose the option that you feel best protects your interests. It is becoming more common for over-worked prosecutors to base plea bargains completely off of the allegations of law enforcement, which can lead to excessive or inappropriate penalties. In these cases, it's particularly vital to have a skilled criminal defense attorney who can confidently go to trial on your behalf.
What Is My Lawyer's Role?
Your defense attorney is your legal agent, and must work to carry out your decisions. While they can work on your behalf to negotiate a better deal, you will ultimately make the choice whether or not to accept a plea bargain. In rare cases, the defendant and their lawyer will be in total disagreement about how to proceed. When the lawyer disagrees to the point that they cannot effectively execute the defendant's desired strategy, they can withdraw from the case. That is why it is so crucial that you retain a legal advocate you can trust to safeguard your best interests every step of the way.
When you retain The Law Office of A. Oliver Hassibi, our Fort Worth criminal defense attorney will take the time to learn about your case and unique situation. This personalized approach helps him craft quality defenses that are aligned with our clients' goals, and designed to get them the best possible results.
If you're facing criminal charges, call (817) 953-2663 for seasoned counsel.