Knowing what you may be able to accomplish in presenting a case is critical for a criminal defense attorney to do. In the world of criminal defense attorney services, there are a few options available for handling most cases. Let's take a look at what they are and why this matters to you.
Motions to Dismiss During Preliminary Hearings
Moving to have a case dismissed is an option a criminal defense attorney will try to exercise if there's even a glimmer of hope. The prosecution has to come into court and explain what they believe charges are even remotely justified. DUI attorneys, for example, may choose to question why traffic stops occurred in the first place. If the arresting officer's affidavit doesn't seem to justify a stop, the judge may elect to dismiss the case entirely.
Considering a Lesser Charge
Prosecutors and judges may be willing to consider lesser charges for a variety of reasons. DUI attorney services providers might choose to have first-time offenders diverted into drug and alcohol programs, for example. It's not unknown for a court to accept a guilty plea to the lesser charge of reckless driving upon completion of such a program. Even getting a felony down to a misdemeanor can make a huge difference in terms of fines, your criminal record and possibly serving jail time.
It might not seem like a great option, but there's some logic to it. A guilty plea may be perceived by the court as an acknowledgment of wrongdoing. This can bolster the argument that the guilty person deserves a degree of clemency for not wasting the court's time with a legal fight. There is also a point at which the time, money and effort that might go into a losing battle can't be justified.
Notably, most attorneys want to at least get a little bit into a case before a guilty plea is entered. In terms of exercising options, it's best to hold onto a potential plea as a negotiating chip while discovery of evidence is handled and motions to dismiss are considered. Once you've seen the whole case laid out, that's when you might contemplate asking for the court's mercy.
Going to Trial
While most cases never see a day before a jury, going to trial is certainly an option. Even the threat of going to trial may motivate the prosecution to budge on offering a lesser charge. To be clear, though, prosecutors rarely bring cases to trial they can't win.