Do Most Criminal Defense Attorneys Avoid Taking Cases To Trial?

Some attorneys avoid taking cases to trial. They may shy away from trials because they are time-consuming and require a lot of work. When going to trial, an attorney typically blocks off about a week of their schedule far in advance. Everything has to be scheduled around that commitment. I am not afraid of going to trial. This attitude sends a message to prosecutors that I am serious and will not allow my client to be pushed into a bad plea deal. I have gone to trial multiple times, and I am ready to go to trial on any case in which it makes sense to do so.

Criteria I Consider When Deciding Whether To Go To Trial

Attorneys Avoid Taking Cases to Trial
Ultimately, the decision to go to trial is the defendant’s. My role is to advise my client on what I think the best option is. The defendant must weigh the pros and cons of each option. This involves comparing the plea offer to the maximum amount of time the defendant can get if all counts are to run consecutively. There are other implications to foregoing a plea deal. For instance, the prosecutor may reduce the charges in a plea deal. They could amend a charge from a violent crime to a non-violent crime, or aggravated trafficking to non-aggravated trafficking, or trafficking to possession with intent to distribute, etc. Prosecutors can also dismiss charges in a plea deal.

A prosecutor may agree ahead of time to give the defendant an opportunity to be granted a judicial sentencing review. In a judicial sentencing review, a judge may modify the sentence within 60 months of it having been issued. The prosecutor must approve of the review if the defendant pleads to something. And just because the prosecutor allows the review to happen, that doesn’t mean the prosecutor will want the sentence to be modified. This process is covered in 22 O.S. § 982a.

Other considerations include the amount of mandatory time the defendant would have to spend in jail and eligibility for probation. If a defendant goes to trial, then they will most likely be going to trial on the original charges. It may be possible for a jury to find a defendant guilty of a lesser included charge, but that is no guarantee. Prosecutors have little motivation to drop a charge before trial.

Should Someone Go To Trial Because They Don’t Like The Plea Offer?

If a defendant believes they could get a better outcome from a jury trial than what is already on the table, then they should absolutely consider trial. There could be sufficient reasonable doubt to find the defendant not guilty. Going to trial is always a roll of the dice; you never know what a jury is going to do, and you never know what individual jurors are going to focus on during the trial. Therefore, there is a tremendous amount of risk involved. However, if the plea recommendation involves a significant amount of time in prison and it is unlikely that a jury would give that much time, then going to trial could be a good option.

Common Reasons A Case Can Get Dismissed

There are a variety of reasons a case can be dismissed. There could be a lack of evidence. A witness could go missing, not show up to trial, or choose not to cooperate. The defendant might actually be innocent! This would likely require the defense attorney to prove their client’s innocence to the prosecutor ahead of time.

A case could also be dismissed due to evidence of police misconduct. For example, somebody could have been mistreated or abused by the police. There could be a violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights. The primary example of this is an illegal search or seizure. If evidence is gathered after a violation of the Fourth Amendment, then any evidence gathered after that cannot be presented to a jury. If the evidence is vital to the prosecutor’s case, then the state would likely be unable to proceed with the case.

Do Police Or Other Witnesses Ever Fail To Show Up For Trial?

Witnesses sometimes fail to show up for trial. Law enforcement officers show up the vast majority of the time. If a law enforcement officer or other important witness does not show up, then the state will most likely ask for some time to find that witness. Witnesses do not show up for a variety of reasons. They may not care about the case, they may not want to help the state, they move away, or they could go missing. Law enforcement officers generally stay in the same area, and they are typically easy to find, so it is much easier to have a law enforcement officer show up for court than it is a regular citizen. Plus, it is the officer’s job to show up for court.

For more information on Taking Criminal Cases To Trial, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (405) 633-3420 today.


22 OS § 982a –

Current as of July 1, 2017.