Guilty Plea in a Southern California Criminal Case

The first time you appear in Court on your criminal charge is referred to as the Arraignment. At the arraignment you are asked to enter a plea. You have the option of pleading guilty, not guilty, or no contest.

Many people opt to plead guilty because it speeds up the process and puts an end to the entire ordeal. Additionally, many people are not facing a jail sentence, just a fine and probation and feel that it is a good offer and plead guilty. This could be a very big mistake.

Even though you may not be given jail time as part of your sentence, it does not mean that your conviction does not have other serious consequences. The conviction will remain on your record until you have the ability to expunge it.

If you are planning to apply to a new job, or filling out applications for college or grad school, you must be prepared to explain the conviction. The arrest record and the criminal record are public information and will be available to anyone who does a background check before offering you a job or a position at their school.

Additionally, if you are not a citizen of the United States, a conviction can have significant immigration consequences. Certain kinds of convictions will bar a person from ever applying for citizenship and sometimes it is a cause for immediate deportation.

Before entering a plea of guilty, it is a good idea to consult with a DUI and Criminal Defense Attorney, as well as an Immigration attorney (if necessary). The court ordered sentence is not the only consequence that you may be facing, there may be a lot more to lose.

Southern California Plea Bargain

A majority of criminal cases are offered a plea bargain. A plea bargain is when the prosecution, after careful consideration, will offer the person charged a deal. The deal will require the person to plead guilty and in return the government will reduce the charge.

What are the Costs and Benefits for Each Side When a Plea Bargain is Made?

The government has huge incentives to offer a plea bargain. They get the case finished faster and removed from the criminal court calendar, which is already overwhelmingly packed with cases. They get a guilty plea and can still charge the person with a crime, even if it may be a lesser charge. Additionally, they avoid the case going to trial and spending additional time and state resources.

For the person being charged, there is a lot more at stake and the decision to accept a plea bargain requires careful thought and consideration. The first appearance of any criminal case is called the arraignment. At the arraignment, the Judge will as that a plea be entered. The plea may either be guilty, not guilty, or no contest. When you enter a plea for guilty the case is closed and the person is given the final sentence. When a plea for not guilty is entered, the case is set for a pre-trial conference ,and will head towards trial where a jury will be selected and evidence will be presented. A plea of no contest means that the person is not denying or accepting the charge, but will carry out any sentence that is given.

When a person accepts a plea bargain, they are pleading guilty to a charge. They give up the right to plead no contest, or not guilty. The charge will go on their criminal record as being found guilty and they will be responsible to complete any penalty assigned. Because the person is giving up their rights to argue the charge, it must be carefully considered.

How do I Know if a Plea Bargain is Right for Me?

To determine if a plea bargain is the right decision for someone, the person must take into account several factors. Do they have a criminal history? What are their chances of having the charge reduced or dismissed if they went to trial? These are questions that can be answered thoroughly by an experienced Los Angeles DUI and Criminal Defense Attorney.

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