In every non-dismissed criminal case, there is a choice along the road—accept a plea bargain or take the case to trial—and when the time comes, the defendant must choose which option they prefer. However, that choice doesn’t have to be scary, because the defendant doesn’t have to make that choice alone. It is the job of a good Denver criminal defense attorney to advise the defendant about their options. Not only that, but the best attorneys work to make both options as appealing as possible. Here’s a brief look at what each option can look like.
Plea bargains usually involve a guilty plea to a lesser charge and a guarantee of a lesser punishment. They are made possible because of extensive mitigative work done by the defendant potentially including community service and re-education classes. They are also made possible because of the defense attorney’s expert negotiations with the prosecutor. These negotiations are sometimes best ways to resolve a case. The prosecutor receives a conviction, and the defendant trades uncertain and risk at trial for a known and understood resolution.
Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to get the government to agree to a reasonable disposition. Sometimes the prosecutor insists on jail or a punishment that doesn’t fit the crime. Sometimes the prosecutor won’t make an offer at all. In these scenarios, it may be better to take the case to trial.
And, as always, if the defendant truly is innocent, or if the prosecution can’t prove their case, trial can very well be the only solution!
(Although jury trials are currently suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, below is a run-down on the risks and benefits of trials).
Trial can be a somewhat scary word, and in many ways that is justified. Trial is the high-risk option because of the number of question marks it presents. Juries are unpredictable; they can and will reach whatever verdict they see fit. Judges are temperamental; they each have different pet peeves and no one knows what will turn them against someone. Witnesses are undependable; although they are under oath, anything they say can be damaging to a case. Most of all, the outcome is anything but assured; if you’re found guilty, the extent of the penalty is completely unknown. And if you’re found not guilty, the case closed and you go home. Taking a case to trial means accepting these risks.
However, the risk doesn’t have to go unmitigated. A good Denver criminal defense attorney can offset them with their capabilities in the courtroom. The best attorneys have the ability to win over the hearts of the jury, juggle the rules of the judge, and manage witnesses when they take the stand. If worse comes to worst and the trial is lost, the best attorneys can also argue for the minimum penalty for the defendant using all of the previous mitigative work that was done.
To offset the high-risk, trial also carries a high-reward. If the defendant wins the trial, they walk free, but lose and they will receive the full force of the law. In addition to the very high reward, the burden of proof at trial is beyond a reasonable doubt. This is the highest burden in the legal system meaning the prosecution often has a very difficult time proving their case.
It is a big decision to take a case to trial and not one to take lightly. It is always in your best interest to consult with an attorney before making this big decision. If you or someone you know is facing criminal charges, call Krizman Law long before you get to this fork in the road. You or your loved one needs a relentless Denver criminal defense attorney call Krizman Law today at 303.529.2677.
Mr. Krizman is a criminal defense attorney in Denver, Colorado. He specializes in providing relentless defense for domestic violence, DUI, and drug crimes. He is a former public defender who has also worked for a district attorney and is licensed in the State of Colorado, and the United States Federal Court, District of Colorado. Mr. Krizman is a member of the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar, Colorado Bar Association, Denver Bar Association, and Arapahoe County Bar Association. A Colorado native, he has a law degree from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, and a bachelor’s degree in Government and World Affairs from the University of Tampa. Contact him today at 720.819.7317.