If you have been accused of a crime in the city of Los Angeles, and you know you are guilty, you may think it is futile to hire a criminal defense attorney. This is actually a misconception.
You may think that your fate is sealed. However, the truth is that there is still much that a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney can do for you, even if you are guilty of the crime with which you are being charged.
Taking Responsibility for Your Actions
Some folks think that if they approach the judge and admit they are guilty of the charges against them, the judge may consider their actions noble and dole out a lesser punishment. While it is true that judges often appreciate honesty and holding oneself accountable, you don’t necessarily have to plead guilty to earn the court’s respect.
Judges are just as aware of the fact that you have a right to an attorney. They expect that you will go over all of the evidence in the case with your criminal defense attorney and that after they review the law, your attorney will guide you insofar as to how to proceed.
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The Difference Between Being Guilty and Being Wrong
One thing to understand about the law is that there is a vast difference between being in the wrong and being guilty of the charges against you. When charged with a crime, that charge typically has a series of elements to it that must be proven in order for you to be found guilty.
If the prosecutor cannot prove those elements beyond a reasonable doubt, you should not be found guilty. Why make it easier for them by pleading guilty?
The last thing you want to do is rush to plead guilty to a charge when you are not actually guilty beyond a reasonable doubt as defined by law. Depending on the charges against you, you can potentially suffer heavy consequences, including but not limited to:
- Jail time
- The loss of your driver’s license
- Fines or fees
- Loss of your firearms, or the loss of the right to bear arms
- Loss of custody or supervised visitation of your children
This list goes on. The elements of the charges against you that must be proven can hold significant sway over the penalties that are ultimately handed down upon you.
For instance, maybe you are being charged with possession of a drug, but did you know there are steeper penalties if you are charged with possession with an intent to sell? You may think you are just pleading guilty to a possession charge when really you are opening yourself up to something even worse.
Sentencing for a Guilty Plea
You have to be certain that you are guilty before you actually take a guilty plea because once you are convicted, you must be sentenced accordingly. This is one area where you may want to consider hiring a criminal defense attorney. Many people leave out information for fear that it may hurt their case when it may help them, and vice versa.
For example, some people don’t want to tell the judge that they suffer from substance abuse, thinking that may hurt their case or their character in the judge’s opinion. In fact, depending on the situation and the judge, the court’s awareness of this fact may mean the difference between rehab and jail time.
An attorney may be better able to tell when such a revelation would hurt or harm a case.
Others are anxious to speak to the judge; however, they inadvertently implicate themselves in the crime at issue or establish a foundation to be charged with an entirely new crime. An attorney may be able to guide the person on how better to address the court, or, if the client so chooses, to allow their attorney to address the court for them.
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Negotiating a Guilty Plea
Instead of just pleading guilty and taking what comes after, a guilty plea is typically negotiated down to a lesser crime that carries a milder punishment. You miss out on this negotiation if you plead guilty without first considering your options.
Criminal defense attorneys are experienced in negotiating plea deals. As a result, they may be able to get you a better deal than if you were to try and negotiate yourself. And once you do agree to a plea bargain, it is a good idea to have an attorney review it.
Once you have committed to that deal, it is next to impossible to reverse it, so be sure that you are fully okay with the agreement you are making.
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What Pleading Guilty to a Lesser Charge Could Mean
When you negotiate a deal before pleading guilty to a charge, you are setting yourself up for a better deal than if you plead guilty from the start. In nearly all plea bargaining cases, reaching a deal will mean less time behind bars and paying less money in fees. Additionally, several other life-altering consequences could be avoided if you strike the right bargain.
Depending on the crime for which you are accused and the particulars of your situation, negotiating a plea bargain before entering a guilty plea could mean that you avoid:
- A strike under California’s three-strikes law
- Loss of custody or visitation rights with your children
- Registration as a sex offender
- Loss of gun rights
Being guilty of a crime does not mean that you should have to face the harshest possible punishment. Prosecutors are often willing to negotiate a plea bargain to expedite your conviction and avoid a lengthy trial. A criminal defense lawyer can help you work out the best possible deal.
Ensuring Your Rights Are Protected
Experienced attorneys may be better able to call to mind the criminal procedure law they need when they need it. This may allow them to find loopholes that a person representing themself might have missed that may have helped their case.
Attorneys may be better able to tell when evidence is being used improperly. As such, they can move to have the evidence thrown out. It would then be ruled inadmissible at trial and would potentially weaken the prosecution’s case.
Hiring a criminal defense attorney in L.A. may allow you to reduce your stress. It can be a relief to know that your attorney has your best interests at heart and, as such, will ensure that your rights are being properly protected.
There Are Others to Consider As Well
Before you plead guilty to a crime, it is important to consider your loved ones. While you may feel guilty about your actions and want to put yourself at the mercy of the court, this is unlikely to be in the best interest of those who care about you. Fighting a charge or negotiating a plea deal can give you the chance to do right by your family.
Enough people have likely been hurt by your crime already. Being locked up for an extended period of time will not help you make it right. Staying out of jail or reducing your incarceration time will mean you can be there for your family, as well as give you the opportunity to attempt to make things right with your victims.
When to Consider Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney
In a nutshell, you may want to consider hiring an L.A. criminal defense attorney if you have been charged with a crime in the city of Los Angeles. This is because an attorney may be better equipped to shoot holes in the prosecution’s case against you or to find those holes that you might have otherwise missed in representing yourself.
If you are on the verge of pleading guilty to a crime, you may want to consider hiring a criminal defense attorney to help manage your case. Give us a call or fill out the form to the right, and we can provide you with a free case evaluation with no obligation to retain our firm.