Why You Should Not Plead Guilty to a Georgia Criminal Charge

The sentence of plead guilty and why you shouldn't in the courtroom.

Individuals charged with a criminal offense often wonder if they should just plead guilty and accept the consequences. The truth is that entering a guilty plea is one of the most serious mistakes you can make in a criminal case. You should never plead guilty to a Georgia criminal charge unless you have discussed your case with a knowledgeable lawyer.

If you are ever arrested or charged, you should immediately call an experienced criminal defense attorney, who can explain your options for defending against the charge and mitigating the consequences. There are many reasons why that is the only sensible approach.

Consequences of a Criminal Conviction on Your Record

If you plead guilty to any Georgia criminal charge, the conviction becomes part of a searchable public record and database. The information is disclosed anytime a prospective employer, potential landlord, or financial institution (or anyone else) conducts a background check as part of reviewing an application for a job, rental housing, or financing.

A conviction on your record can negatively affect your employment and housing opportunities, as well as your ability to secure financing of any type. The extent of the effect depends somewhat on the nature of the offense, but any conviction on your record can hurt you in the future in ways that go beyond the criminal penalties (fines and jail or prison time) that result.

In addition, Georgia has many criminal offenses — including DUI — that become more serious charges if there are prior convictions of the same offense. If you plead guilty once and later face another similar charge, the charge and penalties may be much more serious than they were the first time.

The significant future consequences alone are sufficient reasons to talk with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after you are charged and not consider pleading guilty. But there are more reasons as well.

Rights You Lose By Pleading Guilty

If you plead guilty, you give up important constitutional rights that relate to the criminal charge against you. Giving up those rights means you lose the ability to challenge the evidence and witnesses in court.

A guilty plea means you give up your right to a trial by jury, to confront and cross-examine witnesses against you, to testify on your own behalf (or choose to remain silent), and to appeal from the penalties that are imposed. You give the judge the power and discretion (within limits set by applicable laws) to decide on your sentence. You have no choice other than to accept the consequences if you plead blind or non-negotiated. If you have a negotiation with the state, you can withdraw your plea if the court does not accept the recommendation made by the state.

The law provides that a person charged with a criminal offense is innocent until proven guilty. The prosecutor has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If you plead guilty, you are no longer presumed guilty, and the prosecutor doesn’t have to prove anything.

The Georgia criminal justice system provides defendants with opportunities to aggressively defend against a criminal charge. But taking advantage of those opportunities requires knowing and understanding the process, the rules and procedures that apply, and the provisions of law that are relevant to the case. Only an experienced criminal defense attorney has that knowledge and skill.

Your lawyer thoroughly investigates your case and explains the strategies for defending and the options for proceeding. You can make an informed decision about the charge only after you have received all that information. If you plead guilty without talking to a lawyer, you never have the chance to fully evaluate the case and the choices you have for moving forward.

Why You Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer

When you face a criminal charge, a myriad of laws and rules apply to the criminal process that applies. You must navigate a completely unfamiliar system that can have significant consequences and a major impact on your future. If you try to go through the system without help from someone who understands it, you are likely to make mistakes. Those mistakes can seriously undermine your ability to defend against the case.

A criminal defense lawyer has the necessary training and experience to identify the best defenses and the best strategy for navigating the criminal process in every case. Your attorney also knows how to negotiate aggressively with the prosecutor to obtain the best possible result in your case. If you try to represent yourself, you lose all those advantages and are unlikely to achieve the most advantageous result in your case. In addition, if you do not know what legal options you have, you are not making an informed decision. Negotiating or entering a plea can be the best course of action given the facts of your case. However, it is important that you make your decision after being advised of your legal options. As noted above, the decision to enter a plea of guilty or to go to trial should only be taken after much reflection.

Cartersville, Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you face any type of Georgia criminal charge, or you are under investigation, please contact us so we can fully protect your rights and defend against the case. We employ the highest standards in client confidentiality and understand the sensitive and private nature of criminal convictions. You can rest assured that we will handle your case with unparalleled confidentiality, professionalism, and integrity.

Based in Cartersville, we serve clients throughout Bartow County, Cobb County, Cherokee County, Gordon County, Floyd County, and Paulding County. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

Categories: Criminal Defense