I’m Guilty. Do I Need an Attorney?
Facing a potential sentence can become an overwhelming situation. It can be tough to figure out your options, especially if you believe that you were guilty of the crime. However, it is essential that you understand your rights and that you fight for those rights. The help of a professional criminal defense attorney can help you determine the best course of action, including fighting for a lesser or alternative sentence.
At The Law Offices of Thomas W. Martin, LLC, I am prepared to help you fight for the sentence that fits the crime. From my office in Fort Collins, Colorado, I serve the neighboring areas of Larimer County and Weld County, including Loveland, Wellington, Estes Park, Johnstown, Windsor, and Greeley.
Possible Consequences of a Guilty Plea
In Colorado, entering a guilty plea does not mean automatically going to prison. There are a number of possible consequences that do not necessarily involve serving jail time, giving you options:
Prison time. Misdemeanor and felony charges generally involve prison time. Depending on the charges and severity, prison time can range from days to years. The key is to ensure the charges match the actual circumstances. Then, the sentence must match the charges.
Fines. Some lesser charges may be settled by paying a fine instead of going to jail. In general, misdemeanor charges are eligible for fines rather than jail time.
License suspension or cancelation. Traffic violations may lead to a driver’s license suspension or loss. Additionally, traffic violations may involve paying a fine.
Probation. First offenders and individuals with clean criminal records may be eligible for probation instead of jail time. However, please understand that probation is serious business, and probation violations can result in immediate incarceration. Additionally, individuals on probation must regularly report to their probation officer and appear on scheduled court dates.
Employment issues. While employment is not necessarily a legal consequence, a guilty plea may affect employment opportunities. For instance, a conviction of domestic violence may cause loss of employment in companies with a zero-tolerance policy.
Loss of professional licensing. A conviction can lead to loss of professional licensing. Consequently, losing professional licensing leads to losing employment opportunities.
Inability to carry a firearm. Most states have legislation prohibiting convicted individuals from carrying a firearm. Convicted individuals arrested on weapons charges may face additional charges and jail time.
Deportation. Foreign nationals, regardless of immigration status, face deportation as part of their sentence. Deportation generally occurs after the individual has served jail time. Nevertheless, the court may order immediate deportation rather than serving a prison term.
Loss of parental rights. Convicted individuals may face the loss of custody or visitation rights of minor children. For example, individuals convicted of domestic violence or sex charges may face loss of custody or have visitation rights revoked.
Damage to reputation. Regardless of its nature, a conviction can seriously damage a person’s reputation. This situation can leave a person in poor standing within their community, company, or church. Unfortunately, a convicted person’s image may never recover.
Harm to close relationships. Convictions can lead to divorce, separation, or distance from family members and close friends. Please bear in mind that a person can file for divorce, citing their spouse’s conviction in most states.
Reasons for Hiring a Professional Criminal Defense Attorney
It is highly advisable to consult with a professional criminal defense attorney when considering a guilty plea. Here are five key reasons why getting the right legal counsel is essential:
Assessing options. Please remember that not all charges may result in jail time. An experienced criminal defense attorney can advise individuals about their options to determine the best course of action.
Building a case. It is up to the prosecution to build its case against a charged individual. In this regard, it is on the prosecution to produce the burden of proof leading to a conviction. A top criminal defense attorney helps protect you in case the prosecution tries to overstep its authority. As a result, the right legal counsel protects a person’s right to a fair defense.
Negotiating a plea bargain. In some instances, a trusted criminal defense attorney can work with prosecutors to negotiate a plea bargain. A plea bargain may consist of accepting charges in exchange for a reduced sentence. Similarly, the prosecution may present lesser charges on the condition the charged individual enters a guilty plea.
Seeking alternative sentencing. Experienced criminal defense attorneys know there are options besides jail time. Consequently, criminal defense attorneys can work with the court to consider alternative sentencing such as probation, house arrest, or community service.
Making sure the sentence fits the charges. Above all, fighting to make sure the sentence fits the charges is the top priority. Please remember that prosecutors generally ask for harsh sentences knowing the court may rule on a more lenient sentence. Therefore, criminal defense attorneys strive to make sure that the prosecution does not seek sentences beyond what is fair.
Communicating With a Criminal Defense Attorney
There are two things to keep in mind when communicating with a criminal defense attorney. First, be truthful about the situation. It is essential to answer a criminal defense attorney’s questions honestly. Lying or withholding information does a disservice to building a fair defense. Second, and just as importantly, listen carefully. A professional criminal defense attorney will always have their client’s best interest in mind. Thus, criminal defense attorneys seek the information they need to build the best possible defense for their clients.
Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney in Colorado
At The Law Offices of Thomas W. Martin, LLC, I understand the consequences of a guilty charge. Because of this, I am committed to fighting for my clients’ rights to a fair defense. If you’re in the Fort Collins area, call today, schedule a meeting directly with me, and get the legal counsel you deserve.