After you have been arrested, your first court hearing, “ an arraignment “ is normally scheduled within a 30 day time period. At the arraignment, the charges that have been filed against you will be read along with the possible consequences of being found guilty of the charges. A judge will then ask you to enter a plea. Your choices are guilty, not guilty or no contest.
The biggest mistake often made is, even if you feel that you are guilty of the crime you have been charged with, you should never enter a guilty plea at your arraignment. By doing so there are several factors that may result in serious penalties and possibly a permanent criminal record.
Below are a few reasons why you should plead “not Guilty” at your arraignment.
You do not have legal representation:
Often defendants do not have a lawyer at the beginning of the criminal justice process. At the beginning of the process, you have the opportunity to hire a criminal lawyer or you can have a public offender assigned to represent you if you can’t afford to hire a lawyer of your choice. The downside of having a public defender is they have a very heavy caseload and have little time to dedicate to your case and protect you in court. If at all possible we highly advise you seek an experienced criminal lawyer.
You will be allowed more time to find legal representation and explore legal options:
By immediately pleading guilty you lose the opportunity to seek out available defenses that you can use that might allow your case to be dismissed or possibly have the charges lowered to a less serious offense. When you choose a “not guilty” plea, this allows more time and opportunity for you to find legal representation, have your charges fully evaluated by an experienced criminal lawyer, and examine the evidence that is being used against you.
A Plea Deal may be used to encourage you to plead guilty:
Once a guilty plea is finalized it cannot be revered. Your judge will also have the option to pass down the maximum penalties allowed by law. By going with a not guilty plea, your attorney has the option of negotiating with the prosecutor for a more promising plea deal on your behalf. If your attorney feels he can’t win your case, this is a favored option because it can result in a reduced charge or sentence in exchange for the guilty plea.
The King Law Firm has been helping North Carolinians for over 30 years. Our team of experienced criminal attorneys will fight to make it right on your behalf. If you are in need of serious criminal defense, contact the King Law Firm today to schedule a consultation at (800) 635-1683