Murfreesboro criminal defense attorney

5 Things to Know Before You Accept a Guilty Plea Agreement

If you have been charged with committing a criminal offense in the State of Tennessee, the prosecutor will likely offer you a guilty plea agreement that will resolve your case without the case going to trial. Sometimes, the terms of a plea agreement make accepting the agreement appear to be the best option. In fact, sometimes it is the best choice; however, a Murfreesboro criminal defense lawyer at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby explains five things to know before you accept a guilty plea agreement.

  • You have a right to be represented by an attorney and you should exercise that right. As a criminal defendant, you have aFederal Sentencing Guidelines Constitutional right to be represented by an attorney. Nevertheless, the prosecutor may offer you a guilty plea early on before you have retained an attorney in the hope that you will want to get the case over with and will, therefore, accept the plea agreement. Never agree to accept a plea agreement without first consulting an attorney. An experienced criminal defense attorney may look at the facts of your case and be able to prevent a conviction altogether or may be able to negotiate more favorable terms if a conviction is inevitable. 
  • You must admit to the facts upon which the guilty plea is based. Defendants frequently want to accept a guilty plea because the terms of the plea get them out of jail and/or do not include additional jail time. They simply want to get the case over with as quickly as possible. Understand, however, that if you accept a guilty plea agreement you must stand in front of the court and admit that you did, in fact, commit the crime to which you are pleading guilty. Moreover, the prosecutor will usually have to read a “factual basis” into the record to support your plea of guilty. You must agree to those facts or the judge will not accept your plea.
  • Probation typically comes with a suspended sentence. It can be very tempting to accept a guilty plea that only includes a period of time on probation because it sounds like a guaranteed way to stay out of jail. It can be but only if you follow all the terms of your probation. Most “probation only” guilty pleas come with an actual term of imprisonment that is suspended under the condition that you successfully complete your period of probation. If you violate any of the terms of your probation, the judge could revoke your probation and order you to serve your suspended sentence time in jail. 
  • Consider a guilty plea irrevocable. While there are special conditions under which a guilty plea can be withdrawn, they rarely apply. As such, you need to consider a guilty plea to be irrevocable. That means you cannot appeal, you cannot argue that your rights were violated during the investigation that led to your arrest, and you cannot change the terms of your plea once you accept the agreement in court.
  • Pleading guilty can impact your future. A final reason why it is so important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney before accepting a guilty plea is to ensure that you understand how doing so may impact your future. Pleading guilty will mean you have a criminal conviction on your record for life. That conviction could impact many aspects of your future, including your status in this country if you are not a citizen, your eligibility for employment, housing, and education, and even your rights to your children now or in the future.

Contact a Murfreesboro Criminal Defense Lawyer 

If you have been charged with a criminal offense in Tennessee and the prosecution has offered you a guilty plea agreement, consult with an experienced Murfreesboro criminal defense lawyer at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby as soon as possible. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your free appointment.

 

Stan Bennett
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