Unfortunately, my son got caught up with the wrong group of kids over the last summer. It was not until the police officers brought him home that I learned of what he and his new group of friends were up to. I knew at that moment that I was going to need a lawyer to help me help him through the situation. My lawyer was so helpful in many ways. By the time we worked our way through the legal process, my son was able to walk away without any charges that could threaten his future. Visit my site to learn what can be done for a troubled teen to get him or her back on the right track.
If you've been charged with a crime, you have every right to a trial. However, if you exercise that right and lose, you could end up serving more time than if you had accepted a guilty plea. This is what criminal defense lawyers sometimes call the "trial tax." Here's what you should know.
In some cases, mandatory minimum sentencing is to blame.
Mandatory minimum sentences became popular as tools designed to impose severe prison terms for serious offenses. Many were directed at drug offenses, but they also exist for offenders who commit serial felonies, crimes involving guns, pornography, and some economic crimes.
Unfortunately, mandatory minimum sentencing laws take away the ability of judges and juries to impose what they feel is a proper sentence when mitigating circumstances are present.
In the case of a defendant who is charged with one or more crimes that could potentially result in a mandatory sentence, a prosecutor will often offer a reduced charge and reduced sentence in exchange for a guilty plea.
For example, imagine that a defendant is charged with three robberies using a gun that under the mandatory sentencing laws equal a 25-year prison term for each theft, or 75 years total. The prosecutor might offer to let the defendant plead guilty to a reduced charge with a 20-year sentence. For a guilty defendant where the evidence is strong, this might be a gift. Reject it, and the so-called "trial tax" can be astronomical.
An innocent defendant, however, is placed in a very precarious position: if he or she accepts the deal, that's 20 years in prison for nothing. If, however, the defendant chooses to go to trial, he or she ultimately risks many more years in prison.
In other cases, it may just be prejudicial treatment.
There are also times where judges clearly resent it when a defendant asserts his or her constitutional right to a trial, and they express that resentment by imposing a harsher-than-necessary sentence.
Generally, that attitude is only openly expressed when there is extensive evidence of the defendant's guilt but the defendant still insists on a trial. In those cases, judges have been known to justify a more extreme sentence because the defendant put the state and the court through the process of a trial instead of admitting his or her obvious guilt and accepting a plea.
Less than 3%–6% of criminal cases go to trial, and the rest are resolved through plea bargains. However, if you're charged with a crime and you can't resolve your case through a plea, you should at least understand how going to trial could affect your sentence if you're convicted. Have a frank discussion with an attorney like Law Offices of Michael K. Tasker so that you understand all the potential risks and consequences of your decision before you move forward.Share