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The Pros and Cons of Going to Trial

Posted on in Criminal Law

arlington heights criminal defense lawyerIf you are facing criminal charges, you may feel like you have no options and no control over the process. You may have gotten a letter telling you to be in court at 9am and you must show up or face arrest. If you are put on pretrial supervision, you must comply with everything some probation officer tells you to do. For example, if you get a phone call telling you to come in for a drug test, you must stop whatever you are doing and comply. It is easy to feel like you have little agency left. However, you have options. You probably have more options than you think. One of the biggest decisions you will need to make is whether to accept a plea bargain or go to trial. There are benefits and drawbacks to both decisions. While your lawyer can guide you and give you a better understanding of your specific situation, the choice is ultimately yours. 

Trial, Risk Tolerance, and Extreme Outcomes

If you are only facing one charge, trial can be an all-or-nothing event. If you are acquitted after a trial, that is it - you are free to go. You can walk out of the courthouse with no conviction on your record, and you will not have to worry about your case anymore. 

However, if you are convicted, you may face harsher sentencing. Your conviction will be for the original offense you are charged with, not a lesser charge that may have been offered during plea bargaining. The judge sentencing you may have heard testimony from your victim, if there is one, and may be more inclined to throw the book at you. You should also know that if you testify, the prosecutor will be able to question you, and they will probably not be easy questions.

If you are facing multiple charges, you may be convicted of some and acquitted of others. For example, if you are charged with possession and distribution of an illicit substance, the jury may believe that you possessed drugs but were not planning on selling them. 

Everyone has different goals in mind and different levels of risk tolerance. If your number one priority is staying out of jail at all costs, then it may make more sense to plead guilty to a misdemeanor and accept probation rather than risking prison time at trial. However, if your goal is to publicly clear your name, it may make more sense to go to trial and have your attorney present the evidence in your favor. 

Deciding whether to take a plea bargain is a very personal - and very important - choice that should be made only after speaking with an attorney. 

Contact an Illinois Criminal Defense Lawyer 

Scott F. Anderson, Attorney at Law can offer you valuable advice and information before you decide whether to accept a plea bargain or follow through with a trial. Our skilled Arlington Heights criminal defense attorneys will strive to get you the best result possible according to your personal goals. Call 847-253-3400 to learn more with a free consultation. 

 

Source:

https://www.americanbar.org/groups/public_education/resources/law_related_education_network/how_courts_work/pleabargaining/

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