Suppose you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor, such as possessing a small amount of marijuana or shoplifting. The maximum punishment may be six months to a year in jail, and a fine that could be as high as $5,000.
You know that your case doesn’t look good – there is plenty of evidence supporting your guilt. You’re concerned about serving jail time and paying a high fine, and the prosecution’s office offers you a deal – one week in jail and a $500 fine. You figure that it will probably cost most than the amount of the fine for a lawyer, and maybe you are willing to spend a week in jail. Should you accept this seemingly “good” offer?
If you’re a first time offender, the chances are good that you might qualify for a drug treatment “diversion” program, or another program that would offer probation only. Better yet, these programs often provide that if they are successfully completed, a conviction will not go on your record. Evidence of your arrest may also be sealed.
Understand That the Prosecution is Not there to Help You
Ordinarily, they will not tell you about these programs. Remember – they represent the state – the entity charging you with committing a crime. They want to show that they have a high conviction rate. Seeing you “avoid” punishment doesn’t necessarily reflect well on them.
You, on the other hand, by accepting the “good” offer will be stuck with a criminal conviction on your record (at least for some time – you may be eligible for expungement at a much later date). Unfortunately, with a criminal defense lawyer, you may have gotten a much better outcome.
Don’t Plead Guilty Without First Retaining an Attorney
As experienced criminal law attorneys, we will work hard in seeking the best outcome for you, which could include an outright dismissal if the admissible evidence does not warrant a criminal charge. Call us for a free initial phone consultation to learn more.