Do I Need a Lawyer Even If I’m Planning on Pleading Guilty?
If you’ve been accused of a crime and you know you’re guilty, do you really need a lawyer? The answer is a resounding “Yes!” Even when you plead guilty, your sentence will probably be a lot worse if you don’t have an attorney.
Every day in Wyoming, people who are convicted of the same crime receive vastly different sentences. For example, a person charged with possession of a small amount of drugs may go to jail for up to a year. But someone else facing the exact same charges could receive a plea deal that allows them to avoid jail and have all charges removed from their criminal record.
The justice system is very complicated, and judges and prosecutors are granted a large degree of discretion when prosecuting and sentencing defendants. An effective criminal defense attorney has years of experience and training, so they can help you receive the best possible outcome.
Trying to take on the legal system by yourself could cost you years behind bars. And even after you serve your sentence, a conviction has additional consequences that affect you for the rest of your life, such as mandatory sex crimes registry or the loss of your right to own firearms.
Your Attorney Makes a Big Difference
Most criminal cases don’t go to trial. It takes a lot of time and money to conduct a trial, so judges and district attorneys are usually willing to make a deal with the defendant’s attorney based on the evidence in the case and the chances of getting a conviction. This process is known as plea bargaining.
Successful plea bargaining could have a huge impact on the penalties you receive, but it requires an experienced lawyer who’s familiar with the courts, prosecutors, and judges.
There are some offenses in Wyoming known as wobblers. In these cases, the DA can choose to prosecute the offense either as a felony or a misdemeanor. And the sentences for felonies are usually much more severe.
Prosecutors are often willing to accept a guilty plea to a lesser charge to avoid going to trial. When a defendant pleads guilty, it adds to the DAs conviction rate, and both sides avoid the time and expense of going to trial.
For a first offense, your attorney may be able to convince the judge and prosecutor to accept an alternative sentencing deal. This allows you to avoid jail time and receive other penalties, such as probation, fines, restitution, or community service. First-time juvenile offenders may be eligible for a diversion program designed to help rehabilitate them.
Getting Charges Dropped and Sentences Reduced
Even when a suspect has committed the offense they’re charged with, it’s still the prosecution’s responsibility to prove that they’re guilty. And if the police violated your rights by performing an illegal search or failing to read you your rights, your attorney may be able to get the charges against you dismissed.
Every case is different, and judges consider the defendant’s unique situation when deciding what the sentence will be. Your attorney may be able to convince the judge to reduce your penalty based on mitigating factors, which may include:
- Your age
- The ability to reform
- Lack of a criminal record
- Addiction to drugs or alcohol
- Lack of intent to commit a crime
- Feelings of genuine remorse
- Your circumstances at the time the offense was committed
How a Conviction Will Impact Your Future
It’s best to avoid a criminal conviction or get the charges reduced whenever possible. Even after serving your sentence, a felony conviction will continue to have severe consequences that may include:
- Loss of a professional license
- Denial of public housing
- Loss of gun rights
- Damaging custody or visitation rights
- Harm your immigration status
- Mandatory sex offender registration for life
Protecting Your Future and Your Freedom
At Steven Titus & Associates, P.C., we know how the justice system works in Wyoming. We will pursue every avenue to get your charges dismissed or reduced, so you can get on with your life.
Call (307) 257-7800 to learn more today.
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