To plea or not to plea, that is the question: Whether ‘tis nobler to mitigate risk or roll the dice at trial?

Inevitably in a criminal case, a client will have to forsake indecision and decide once and for all whether to accept a plea trial offer—a plea deal—or go to trial. At that point in the case, every client is going ask their attorney something to the effect of “what do you think I should do?”

An effective criminal defense attorney is always running two lines of defense: a trial preparation strategy and a push for the most favorable plea resolution possible. The goal is to present the ultimate question—do you go to trial or not—to the client accompanied by the greatest amount of information. By tenaciously pursuing a plea offer, and wearing down the prosecuting attorney, an attorney can give the client a useful yardstick by which to measure their risk at trial. If aggressive, well researched and articulated attempts at reduction don’t pan out, the client recognizes that there is little to lose by going to trial. On the other hand, if these efforts, accompanied by successful pretrial motions and other investigation that shakes the prosecutor’s confidence in their case, yield a so called “sweetheart deal,” then the client will have to carefully consider the benefits of a secure outcome versus the high risk and uncertainty that is inherent in a jury trial.

The goal is to achieve the best possible result under the circumstances. In order to do so, it is important that the defendant or a loved one supporting someone charged with a felony in Michigan, does not let adherence to principal get in the way of clearheaded, careful consideration of the available options. A criminal defense attorney is much more than just a litigator. We are counselors and advisors, the soundboards for the emotional turmoil and difficult mental deliberation that come along with determining how to best move through a criminal prosecution. Take your time to consider your options and be open minded. And as my mother in law always says “make a decision and make it a good one.”

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