Imagine for a moment that you have a criminal case pending, and the trial date is quickly approaching. Your attorney calls you and says, “I have great news! The prosecutor has just given me a wonderful deal. He is willing to plead you to ______, and he is going to give you probation, with no jail time.” Many people might start jumping for joy at this news, especially if they believed there was a good chance they were going to jail. But before you take off running to the office to sign this deal, I want you to ask your attorney this: what are my options?
While there is no question that the deal being offered is a great one, it is extremely important for you and your attorney to discuss every alternative. For instance, is it advantageous to take the deal now, or if we wait a little longer might they offer something better? If the prosecutor offered this, does that indicate the State has a weak case against me? If there is a possibility the State has a weak case, then should we go to trial? If we go to trial, what are the likely consequences, and what is the worst-case scenario? These are the types of questions that you should be prepared to ask your attorney.
I know that when people think of attorneys, they imagine opening arguments and cross-examinations, or lawyers passionately pounding on a table. But we call attorneys “counsel,” for a reason. This is when your attorney should step into their counselor role and advise you on the advantages and disadvantages of every potential choice. The question, “What are my options?” is the most important question to ask your attorney before deciding to accept or reject a plea agreement.
My name is Corey Scott. If I can be of any further help, please feel free to reach out.