How Often Do Criminal Cases Go To Trial In Maryland?
The typical criminal case never goes to trial. The criminal justice system does not have the resources available to try every criminal case. To avoid trials, most prosecutors offer plea deals or plea arrangements, where somebody will plea to lesser charges or a few of the charges. The other charges get dropped. Sometimes these come with agreements for sentencing, and sometimes they come with agreements for the recommendation of sentencing. Typically you’ll see a small percentage actually make it to the courtroom in front of a judge or jury, but most of the time, a case will end up being plea bargained out at some point.
Do Most Criminal Defense Attorneys Avoid Taking A Case To Trial?
Many attorneys try to avoid criminal trials. One reason is the time and expense involved in the trial; the other reason is sometimes when you have a guilty client and you’re offered a plea deal which can end up better than your result in going to trial, attorneys will opt for that route. I have seen many attorneys who will oversell a plea deal, who won’t advise a client as to all the consequences that they will face in the future as a result of their plea deal. Generally, most attorneys would take a plea over a trial, and the majority of cases are pled out. Most attorneys who work the system can really see when a plea agreement is much better than trying to try somebody who will most likely be found guilty.
What Are The Components That Constitute A Viable Criminal Case That Can Be Tried?
Generally, everything depends on a state’s case. When I take a case, I generally will tell my clients that my case doesn’t begin until I find out what the state’s case is. I do that through discovery. I will get all the police reports, I’ll get any evidence that may be culpable or inculpable to my clients. Based off of that, you make a decision. Does the state have evidence that will be admitted to trial that will prove your client guilty? Are there mistakes made in law enforcement that you can get some evidence excluded? Is your client actually guilty? The majority of people who come into my office admit that, “Yes, I did what they charged me with,” but the second part of this is, “What can the state prove?” I look at whether or not the state can prove their case. If they can prove their case, then I’m more likely to not take this in front of a judge or a jury. If I see problems and mistakes in the case, then the client will have a better option and a better chance of winning.
Some of these things may be statements that a client makes to police. Those can be expunged. Police take a cell phone and use that to gather evidence without a warrant. That evidence can be excluded from the trial. If someone makes a confession, and they were not properly advised beforehand, that can be excluded from the trial. We also look at the severity of the charges. What is a client facing if he is convicted of a charge—is he looking at serious prison time or is he looking at a slap on the wrist? I see often clients where I think that they have a case that the state can’t prove guilty will plead guilty anyway because they are aware that they will have a very minimal sentence and would rather not take the risk. The bottom-line is this the criteria comes down to the client. The client is the one who makes the decision. It’s my job to advise the client properly so he or she can make the best decision as to whether or not he wants to go to trial.
Is It A Good Idea To Go To Trial If The Client Does Not Like The Plea Offer?
In a situation where the client doesn’t like the plea offer, you have to balance the equity. A lot of people don’t like what the plea offer is, but the consequences of the trial may be worse. If somebody is charged with murder and there is a plea for manslaughter, they could end up in a situation where they are going to do 10 or 20 years. If they do murder, they could do life. Somebody may not want to do 10 or 20 years and is willing to take a case in front of a jury to force the state to prove them guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Do Most Clients Have A Misunderstanding Of What A Trial Actually Consists Of?
Most of my clients are sophisticated to the point where they know what the trial consists of. People have watched different TV shows or movies that show what the trial is. They have a good idea as to what a big jury trial would look like, which is much different than most trials that you have in the state of Maryland. Most trials go quickly, and there are a few witnesses that are called. There are jury trials in the circuit court for a serious misdemeanor. Anything that has a potential of over 90 days in jail, you can request the jury trial for, or you can try it in front of the judge, either in the district or circuit court.
Many people don’t really understand some of the proceedings in the trial as much such as their attorney does. But typically, I am able to advise my clients so they have a good understanding as to what is in front of them and what they are going to be facing if they take the case to trial.
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