Every criminal case is unique, and there are different ways that a criminal case in Ohio can be resolved. For example, the court can dismiss your charges, the prosecutor can drop your charges, your case can go to a jury trial, or you can plead guilty to a crime. In many cases, defendants believe that a conviction is inevitable, so they plead guilty to charges without ever speaking with a defense attorney about their options. Sometimes, prosecutors will pressure defendants to plead guilty without defense representation. This can be a grave mistake, however, as you should never plead guilty to any degree of charge without knowing all of the implications of a guilty plea and learning about other possible options.
Options for Your Defense
Even if you know you committed the crime in question, there still might be ways to defend against your charges. First, if authorities violated your constitutional rights before, during, or after your arrest, this issue should be raised, and an attorney can evaluate whether evidence should be excluded from your case as a result. This can make a major difference in the prosecution’s case, and may even result in dropped charges. For example:
- The police searched your car and found drugs, leading to your arrest and possession charges
- The search was warrantless and without another legal justification, which violated your Fourth Amendment rights
- Any evidence stemming from the constitutional violation should be suppressed
- Your attorney gets the drug evidence suppressed as a result, and the prosecutor has no other sufficient evidence to prove drug possession beyond a reasonable doubt
In addition to presenting defense or getting evidence excluded, an attorney can also negotiate with the prosecutor for a plea agreement. These plea “bargains” generally involve reduced charges and penalties from what you initially faced. The prosecution will not offer plea agreements to unrepresented defendants, and you want to ensure that you are not pleading guilty without first having a plea deal.
The Consequences of a Guilty Plea
When you plead guilty, you will be sentenced by the judge, and your sentence may include probation, jail time, fines, and more. In addition to court-ordered penalties, a guilty plea will also result in a conviction on your criminal record. Having a criminal record can have many lasting implications, including:
- Removal or deportation for non-citizens
- Difficulty keeping or getting a job
- Trouble finding rental housing
- Ineligibility for public benefits or federal financial aid
- Putting your professional license in jeopardy
Since there are many serious and lasting consequences of a conviction, never plead guilty before discussing all of the possible implications with a knowledgeable defense attorney.
Consult with an Experienced Dayton Criminal Defense Lawyer Right Away
If you are wondering whether you should plead guilty to a crime, always discuss the issue with a Dayton criminal defense attorney first. While many people end up pleading guilty, it is not the right choice in many cases, or a lawyer can get you a deal from the prosecutor before you plead. The VanNoy Firm is here to help, so contact us today.