As a defendant in a criminal prosecution, one of the most important decisions you will likely need to make regarding your case is whether to take your case to trial or accept a guilty plea agreement. If you do decide to proceed to trial, your criminal defense attorney will need to prepare both your case and you for trial. A Murfreesboro criminal defense lawyer at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby explains how the best criminal defense lawyer will prepare you for trial.
Making the Decision
Unless the State (through the prosecuting attorney) decides to dismiss the charges against you outright, the only options for resolving your case are through negotiating a guilty plea agreement with the State or taking the case to trial. If you decide to go to trial, you must then decide which type of trial you want. A bench trial, also referred to as a trial by judge, is one in which the defendant waives the right to a trial by jury and allows the judge to render the verdict. A jury trial is a trial in which members of the community listen to the evidence presented and render a verdict. While you should never make such an important decision without the advice and guidance of an experienced criminal defense attorney, the ultimate decision is yours to make.
Preparing the Case for Trial
Although the final decision to go to trial may not be made until weeks, or months, into your case, your criminal defense attorney will have been preparing for the possibility all along. In fact, the decision to go to trial is typically not made until important preliminary pre-trial steps are concluded, such as:
- Investigation. This starts with talking to you and reviewing the probable cause affidavit but may include interviewing witnesses, reviewing evidence, obtaining experts to analyze the State’s evidence, and a variety of other investigative techniques.
- Discovery. Discovery refers to the process by which information is exchanged in a criminal prosecution. The prosecuting attorney must provide your attorney with a list of all State witnesses, all evidentiary reports, and other critical pieces of the case against you. Your attorney may decide to depose any of the State’s witnesses or any of your witnesses.
- Pre-trial motions. This may include filing a motion to exclude evidence if your attorney believes a legal basis exists to prevent the evidence from being admitted at trial. Typically, a hearing is held to argue these motions in front of the judge.
- Plea negotiations. If that State has offered a plea agreement, you and your attorney may decide to attempt to negotiate an agreement you are willing to accept before making the decision to go to trial.
Preparing You for Trial
A criminal trial is a stressful experience for almost anyone. Preparing a client for trial should begin by explaining, in detail, what to expect during the trial. It can be extremely difficult for a defendant to sit through the State’s case, particularly if the defendant believes a witness is being less than honest, evidence is being misconstrued, or a witness’s testimony is incomplete. Keep in mind that because the prosecution has the burden of proving guilt, the State always goes first – but your attorney will be able to cross-examine every State witness which can clear up testimony or shed light on the evidence admitted by the State.
Because the State has the burden of proving the defendant’s guilt, a defendant is never required to testify. If you decide to testify on your behalf, however, your attorney should spend sufficient time preparing you given that the prosecutor will have the opportunity to cross-examine you just like your attorney cross-examined the State’s witnesses.
Contact a Murfreesboro Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you are facing criminal charges in Tennessee it is in your best interest to consult with the best criminal defense lawyer available. With that in mind, the Murfreesboro criminal defense lawyers at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby urge you to contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your free appointment.