There are many reasons why you might feel tempted to plead guilty at an arraignment. We have all been told that we need to take responsibility for our actions and you may feel that a guilty plea will accomplish that need. Perhaps you have been told you have no chance of winning, or, because of the accusation, you and your loved ones have undergone a tremendous amount of stress. Whatever the circumstance, you’re simply tired of the angst and waiting and want it over and done with.
Regardless of what you’ve been told or how you feel, keep this important reality in mind: No matter what the reason, you should never enter a guilty plea without consulting a Minnesota defense attorney first. Even if you don’t want to go through the hassle of a trial, there are many reasons pleading guilty will only make matters worse for you.
The Same as a Guilty Conviction
First, entering a guilty plea is the same as receiving a guilty conviction by a jury. Once you make the plea, it is almost impossible to retract. There is no going back. You do not want to make a permanent decision without all the facts. A defense attorney can examine the evidence against you and suggest an appropriate plea to enter. That is something you cannot do for yourself.
You do not know what evidence the prosecution has or if it’s sufficient enough to attain a conviction against you. In fact, you do not know if the evidence the prosecution has is appropriate for the crime they are accusing you of. On the other hand, a defense lawyer is trained to examine the evidence in light of the law and inform you whether they have a prosecutable case against you or not.
Innocent Until Proven Guilty
According to the law, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. On top of that, the prosecution must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. You give up these rights when you plead guilty. Proving your guilt is the prosecutor’s job, not yours. If you plead guilty, you’ve done the prosecutor’s work to their benefit, not yours. When your freedom and future are on the line, that is something you do not want to do.
A Black Mark
By pleading guilty, you put a black mark on your record that is even worse than if a jury finds you guilty. On top of losing your freedom, possibly going to jail and then through probation, your guilty plea will have lifelong repercussions. It will affect your ability to get certain jobs. You may not be able to purchase a firearm. It is something that will follow you for the rest of your life.
The State is not Your Friend
If you offend a friend or family member, apologizing is often the right thing to do. If you wronged a friend, it is your responsibility to make it up to that friend. However, the state is not your friend. If the state accuses you of something, it is their responsibility to prove your guilt. Conversely, it is your right to force the state to prove your guilt.
Someone on Your Side
When you have been charged with a crime it can be a very stressful time for you, and you might want it to just be over and done with. But don’t plead guilty and give up your rights because of stress. When the power of the state is against you, you need an advocate. A Minnesota defense attorney is exactly that-someone who will stand up for you when no one else will.