Why You Need an Attorney When Entering a Plea in Orange County Courts
I've written before about how much court business is conducted between an arrest and trial. Most of that work is carried out by prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys, but there is one step in the process where the defendant must be present: arraignment.
What Happens at an Arraignment in Orange County?
In most cases, this is the first time that the defendant appears before a judge and it serves three purposes:
- To inform the defendant of the charges against them and of their rights;
- To allow defendant to enter an initial plea; and
- To determine whether to grant bail or keep the defendant in custody.
In Orange County Superior Court, defendants are generally allowed to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest.
A not guilty plea means that the case will go to trial, and begins the discovery phase, when your attorney and the prosecutor will begin sharing evidence with each other. This may seem counter-intuitive but it really is in your best interest. Prosecutors are required by law to share any exculpatory evidence with defense attorneys; additionally, this gives your attorney a chance to find out how strong or weak the prosecution's case against you is.
On the other hand, pleading guilty or no contest will result in the defendant being convicted of the offense in question. The judge will then either schedule a sentencing hearing or issue a sentence, depending on the case. Though these two pleas have the same result, there is a crucial difference. A guilty plea means that the defendant admits to the crime and accepts the sentence. However, a plea of no contest means that although the defendant does not chose to fight the charges, they also do not admit guilt. This can sometimes be advantageous when a defendant is also facing civil litigation.
Should I Plead 'Not Guilty'?
You might think that a criminal defense lawyer would always advise their client to plead not guilty. After all, part of their job is helping people avoid being convicted of a crime. But it's also their job to look out for their client's best interest. Remember, a defense lawyer has access to the prosecution's evidence and they may be able to negotiate a shorter sentence if you opt to plead guilty to lesser offense. It is also possible for you to change your plea after the arraignment.
I've been working as a criminal defense attorney in Orange County's state and federal courts since 1999, and I put that experience to work every day to help people. Whether it's meeting with a prospective client for an initial consultation or preparing a closing statement at the end of a criminal trial, I get to see how my work impacts people's lives.
I know how difficult it can be for you and your family to face the ordeal of an investigation and trial. That's why the client's peace of mind is one of my firm's top priorities. Our staff is available to help you 24/7, and we'll do everything that we can to help you manage your legal troubles so that you can keep your life on track.
I'm proud to serve the people of Southern California. I've successfully defended clients from Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, and San Bernardino County. I'm not afraid to take on difficult cases and I never give up on my clients. You won't find a more tireless advocate for your rights in Orange County courtrooms.
Whether you're facing a felony or a misdemeanor, don't risk a conviction. Act quickly to redeem your reputation and protect your record by consulting with our Orange County criminal defense lawyer. Call today to schedule your free consultation.