If you are currently facing criminal charges in the State of Tennessee, and this is the first time you have even been officially accused of a criminal offense, you are likely feeling both worried and a bit overwhelmed. After all, you have never had to retain the services of a criminal defense attorney before and, therefore, you may not know what to expect from your attorney. For example, you are likely aware that at least some criminal cases are resolved when the defendant accepts a plea agreement that require the defendant to plead guilty in return for a sentence negotiated ahead of time. You may wonder, however, if defense attorneys routinely push clients to accept plea agreements? The simple answer is that a good criminal defense attorney should not push his/her client to resolve a case in any particular way. Ultimately, it should be the client’s decision how a case is resolved after the client listens to the attorney’s advice and recommendations.
Understanding the Prosecution of a Criminal Case
If you have never been formally accused of a criminal offense before you cannot possibly know exactly what happens during the course of criminal prosecution. Shortly after your arrest you will go before a judge for an initial hearing, also referred to as an arraignment. At that time the judge will make sure you understand the charges against you, read you your rights, and enter a preliminary plea of not guilty for you. After that, you will appear in court at regular intervals so that both sides can tell the judge how the case is progressing. If you decide to accept a guilty plea agreement at some point in time you will need to do so in front of the judge. If you do not, your case will proceed to trial before a judge or jury.
Ways to Resolve Your Case
There are only three ways in which your case can be resolved – dismissal, plea, or trial. A dismissal only occurs if the prosecutor decides that the charges need to be dismissed. Typically, that occurs when the prosecutor realizes there is not enough evidence to secure a conviction. A plea agreement will resolve the case only if you decide to accept one whereas a trial will occur if the case has not yet been resolved in another way.
Your Defense Attorney’s Job
People often operate under a number of misconceptions with regard to the job of a defense attorney. When you hire a defense attorney, his or her job is to defend you. That entails a number of things; however, one thing it does not entail is making decisions for yourself. It should also not entail pushing you to make any particular decision. Your defense attorney should spend as much time as is necessary evaluating the evidence the State has against you. Once that has been accomplished, your attorney should sit down with you and explain where you stand. Your attorney should also provide you with advice and guidance regarding your options at that point. If the evidence the State has against you is overwhelming, your defense attorney may very well advise you that entering into a plea agreement is in your best interest. Your attorney may even strongly advise you against taking the case to trial. What your attorney should not do though, is to push you into accepting a plea agreement. Only you can decide if a plea agreement is the direction you wish to take your case. On the other hand, if your criminal defense attorney is strongly advising you to accept a plea agreement, you should take that under advisement and give it some serious thought. After all, you are paying your attorney for his/her expertise and advice so it only makes sense to heed that advice in most cases. At the end of the day, however, you must decide which way your case will be handled. If you do decide to consider a plea agreement though it is wise to start negotiating the terms of that agreement as early on as possible in your case so that your attorney can negotiate an agreement that is as favorable to you as possible.
If you have been charged with a criminal offense in the State of Tennessee, it is in your best interest to consult with the experienced Tennessee criminal defense attorneys at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.