You Against Them
Prosecuting attorneys may lead you to believe they hold all the cards. In reality, you have many rights and liberties you can use to your advantage when facing criminal charges. Here are five things the prosecuting attorney already knows that you might not be aware of.
Not all first-time offenders face the maximum sentence.
The prosecuting attorney knows that just because you are charged with a crime, doesn't mean you will receive the maximum sentence. In reality, many first-time offenders face potentially stiff sentences but end up walking away with the minimum sentence or even probation. But the prosecuting attorney won't come out and say that. In fact, it's the job of the defense attorney to explain to the defendant what the potential court-imposed penalties are and what the defendant might face.
The prosecuting attorney can sometimes strike a deal with the defendant.
Not all criminal cases are open and shut. Prosecuting attorneys can offer certain defendants plea bargains. These usually involve a guilty plea in exchange for a lesser charge or sentence. Many prosecuting attorneys are motivated to offer plea bargains the defendant will accept because it clears their docket and saves them—and everyone else in court—time.
Defendants have a right to see the evidence the prosecutor has.
Criminal defendants have a right to see evidence the prosecutor possesses. In many cases, this includes things like the sworn police report, test results, and eyewitness statements. Your attorney can obtain these pieces of evidence and review them for weaknesses. It may be difficult to get copies of the evidence on your own in a timely manner. But you have a right to see what evidence the prosecutor has so you can plan your defense.
Defense attorneys and prosecutors may have good working relationships.
In many cases, defense attorneys have good working relationships with the prosecutor, judge, and others at the courthouse. This means they've worked on the same cases and have some level of respect for each other. It doesn't mean your attorney is unethical or isn't looking out for your best interests.
In fact, some defense attorneys are former prosecutors. They know the system and how to take advantage of it, but they may have less experience actually representing defendants. A criminal defense attorney with good working relationships with prosecutors can work to the defendant's advantage. In some cases, it can be easier for a defense attorney to negotiate a plea bargain if he or she knows how the prosecutor thinks and what his or her tendencies are.
The courts don't have the resources to take every case to trial.
This is something you might not hear directly from the prosecutor's mouth, but it is nevertheless very important to keep in mind. The criminal courts simply cannot try every single case. They don't even have the resources to try every case wherein a defendant asks for a trial. In reality, the vast majority of cases resolve before trial. Use this to your advantage.
If you know the court probably has something to save by avoiding trial, you might be able to use that as leverage to get a favorable plea bargain. If you do demand a trial, know that your case will be added to the list of backlogged criminal cases awaiting trial. It could be a few months before you appear in court, and the court itself can delay that even further. Basically, you are waiting for the court to try your case. In the meantime, your life is on hold. Sometimes, however, a trial is the best option.
If you are facing criminal charges, it's crucial you learn about your rights and the criminal prosecution process in California. The more you know, the better prepared you will be to defend yourself against your charges. If you appear in court without having reviewed this information (at a minimum) and spoken with an attorney, your chance of a favorable outcome is limited.
Facing criminal charges is stressful, but attorney Christopher Martens and his legal team can help. Experienced in criminal defense, our Visalia area legal team can advocate on your behalf in court and aggressively fight your charges. Attorney Martens has over ten years experience in criminal defense working in Tulare, Fresno, and Kings County and won't be afraid to take your case all the way to trial. Call our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.