What Plea Options Do I Have If I’m Charged with a Crime?

Although it might be confusing or even overwhelming to figure out why you’ve been accused of a crime, you need to respond quickly because you will need to make a plea sooner rather than later. You need to understand your pleading options immediately after being accused and sit down with an experienced criminal defense attorney. You will have the option of changing your plea depending on how your case is presented, the advice of your attorney and the evidence presented in the case.

An experienced criminal defense attorney will likely advise you that you should plead not guilty even if you did commit the crime, as this opens up more opportunity for sentencing, acquittals or your defense. If you plead guilty from the start, the judge will likely not have any leniency and will only focus on sentencing you.

There are several different plea variations that may be used throughout your trial. Non- guilty pleas refer to being completely innocent of the crime and can lead to innocent based on a reasonable doubt, innocent proven by alibi or innocent until proven guilty. Non-guilty guilty pleas may include you taking ownership of committing an illegal act but arguing that you should not be held accountable, responsible or liable due to things like entrapment, insanity or self-defense.

A guilty plea may come about as a result of a plea bargain or you could plead guilty for damages but not the crime or make a cooperative guilty plea. To determine which one of these is most applicable in your case, and which one gives you the best possible opportunities for moving forward and avoiding serious consequences of being convicted, you should sit down at the outset of your case and review the charges, the evidence and your possible defense strategies directly with your criminal defense attorney.

Don’t try to make your plea on your own- have your attorney look over the evidence in your case and make recommendations for what to do next. When you have an attorney at your side from the moment you have been accused, your chances of a positive outcome are much higher and more powerful. An attorney can help to guide the way.