Should I ever plead guilty to a crime in South Carolina?

criminal case

If you are facing criminal charges, it can be an overwhelming and frightening experience as you face an uncertain future. As such, you can take your case to trial to enter a guilty plea. Choosing to plead guilty can help you avoid a trial, but it also means accepting a conviction. This could result in significant penalties that upend your life. Unfortunately, innocent individuals may plead guilty to secure lesser charges, which they perceive to be in their best interests. However, before you enter a guilty plea or accept a plea deal, you should speak with an experienced Chesterfield Criminal Defense Lawyer as soon as possible. Please continue reading to learn how we can advise you through this process and protect your rights.

Is pleading guilty ever the right choice in South Carolina?

Firstly, you must exercise your constitutional rights if you’ve been arrested. This includes invoking your right to remain silent, as anything you say or do can and will be used against you in court. It also includes your right to an attorney during interrogation. Before you accept any plea deals, you should discuss your case with a qualified criminal defense lawyer. If you are innocent of the time that you have been accused of committing, you should not plead guilty. Fortunately, the U.S. Constitution also affords you the right to a speedy trial by a jury of peers.

After reviewing the facts of your case and negotiating with the prosecutor, a criminal defense lawyer may determine that entering a guilty plea to achieve lesser charges as part of a plea agreement is in your best interest. Generally, criminal cases are resolved through plea bargain agreements. Through this agreement, you would enter a guilty plea to at least one charge, and in exchange, the prosecution would drop or reduce the remaining pending charges or recommend a lesser penalty.

In some cases, individuals plead guilty to avoid the time and expense of a criminal trial. A criminal trial can take several months to a year to resolve. Depending on the complexities of your case, multiple continuances can prolong the process. If your case takes years to resolve, it can lead to astronomical legal fees that you may be unable to afford. Due to these factors, individuals may choose to accept a plea deal.

In what situations is pleading not guilty the most practical choice?

It is imperative to understand that you should not accept a plea bargain arrangement unless your lawyer advises you to take the deal as it is your best option. If you are genuinely innocent, you must exercise your right to a jury by trial to seek an acquittal. Sometimes, an individual cannot plead guilty to any charges and must have their charges reduced or dismissed with a not guilty verdict due to their career or immigration status.

If you have professional licenses for your career, such as a doctor, nurse, lawyer, teacher, or any other profession that requires specific licensing, your right to practice that career may be suspended or permanently revoked if you are convicted of certain crimes. In addition, if you are in the U.S. on a visa or a lawful permanent resident, any convictions for felonies or crimes of “moral turpitude” can result in deportation.

If you’ve been arrested, it is in your best interest to retain the legal services of a determined lawyer from the legal team at the Cockrell Law Firm, P.C., who can fight to shield you from your charges.