The preferences for trial or seeking a plea bargain (offer) are subjective. Several factors play into the decision, from the facts in police reports, to witness statements, as well as an individual's record (if any).
You will usually be given an offer from the District Attorney or the Court to consider in exchange for admitting guilt to some or all of the charges. In some cases, a defendant is given several offers as more evidence is produced while awaiting trial. Keep in mind that some offers are only good for a certain amount of time, so it's important to have an idea of what you're looking for in terms of settlement. A good attorney can illustrate the possibilities of plea bargaining, advising which offers to take or reject.
For example, lets say you are arrested on a petty theft from Wal-Mart for stealing an Ipod. On your arraignment day, without an attorney, the DA offers you 300 hours of community service, a $650 fine, and several years of probation with Conviction. Should you take it? District Attorneys may not offer legal advice, so he or she cannot tell you whether that is a good offer. What if the normal offer for such an offense is $250 fine and 60 hours of community service and a Dismissal? What if an attorney could negotiate your services hours down to zero? These are all possibilities of plea-bargaining through an attorney that knows the law and which option is best tailored for you and your case.
On the other hand, a jury trial can often be seen as a gamble. While the outcome is never set in stone, a jury trial can be a good way to produce defense witnesses and evidence that either mitigate or exonerate some of all of the charges. It is quite common to go to trial admitting one charge while contesting the other.
The determination of whether to take an offer or go to trial is a personal one to be discussed with an attorney. The Law Office of Robert Keates can guide you through the maze of offers v. trial and let you decide which is right for you and your family.
Basics of the Texas Criminal Justice System
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