Television shows and movies make it look like every case, civil or criminal in nature, goes to trial spurred along by cutthroat attorneys who will do anything to make the other side look bad. Although these types of situations exist in the real world, they are not the norm. In fact, many times cases resolve without trial, meaning that, depending on the circumstances at hand, an individual may have a multitude of criminal defense options available to him or her.
Going to trial can be risky. If the prosecution has a strong case, then a defendant may put him or herself at risk of not only being convicted, but also of facing the stiffest penalties possible. When there are evidentiary issues, it might be wise to take one of these cases to trial in hopes of obtaining an acquittal and thereby avoiding all penalties. Yet, in most cases it is wise to at least discuss a plea bargain, as it may result in the imposition of much less severe penalties. This can allow an individual to get back to his or her life as quickly as possible.
Of course, there are many things to consider when deciding whether to take a plea bargain. The nature of the charges levied, the strength of the prosecution’s case, and the likely outcome of a trial must all be taken into consideration. Regardless of who initiates plea bargaining, a prosecutor or a defense attorney, a competent criminal defense attorney will be able to negotiate in a way that keeps the defendant’s best interests at the forefront while at the same time balancing that against the potential outcome of going to trial.
All of this is to say that plea bargaining is merely an option when an individual has been charged with a crime. It is not right for everyone or for any particular situation. Whether it is a favorable option is truly dependent on the facts and the people involved. However, an experienced attorney should be able to give a realistic assessment of a trial’s outcome based on the evidence at hand, which could help one decide whether plea bargaining should even be considered.
James L. Riotto is an accomplished criminal defense attorney serving clients in New York. With an extensive background in law enforcement and criminal prosecution, his approach to each case is unique and informed by years of experience with the New York criminal justice system. As a graduate from Albany Law School and before going on to start his own practice, James worked at the Albany County District Attorney's Office, where he helped prosecute many DWI offenses. His inside knowledge of the tactics used to gain convictions provides him with a particular advantage when defending against DUI and other criminal charges.
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