The decision in Criminal Defense cases about whether or not to enter into a guilty plea is one of the most difficult decisions that a criminal defendant has to make. Entering into a guilty plea means that the accused is deciding to not challenge the charges in criminal court as a result of the plea offer made by the government and the perceived strength of the government’s case. Entering into a guilty plea in criminal defense cases also means that the accused will be sentenced to either a period of probation or incarceration and typically a fine and perhaps some community service. read about criminal defense discovery motions Essentially, the decision to enter into a guilty plea means that the criminal defendant no longer wishes to fight his charges in court.
SO how does a criminal defendant enter into a guilty plea? In order for an accused to enter into a guilty plea, he typically has to fill out a guilty plea colloquy. read about Preliminary Hearings A guilty plea colloquy contains written questioned designed to make sure that the accused:
A) Understands what he is doing by entering into the guilty plea. Specifically, that the accused is not under the influence of any drugs or alcohol, doesn’t have a mental illness that prohibits his ability to comprehend what he is doing in court and finally that he possesses the requisite level of education so that he can make a knowing and intelligent decision regarding his criminal case;
B) Understands the rights that he is giving up as a result of his decision to plead guilty. Specifically, that he can no longer have a jury or bench trial, attempt to suppress various types of evidence that the government has obtained against him and cross-examine the government’s witnesses.
An accused should not enter into a guilty plea unless he has hired or at the very least consulted with an experienced Chester County Criminal Lawyer.