Should I plea bargain or go to trial?
As much as I enjoy trial work, sometimes you’ve just got to bite the bullet and plead guilty. “So do I plea bargain or go to trial?” There are several factors that you look at in deciding whether you’re going to plead guilty or go to trial. First of all, obviously, what is the strength of the state’s case? Do they have a strong case, where conviction is a certainty? Or is it a weak case, where you have a very good chance at winning a not guilty verdict? Then the other thing you really need to look at is what I would call “your exposure”—if I’m found guilty, am I going to prison for life? Or am I getting probation irregardless of what happens? So certainly, if the penalty is not that bad, you might roll the dice on a case where the evidence is pretty strong, and hope that it comes out well. On the other hand, if you’re looking at a very serious sentence—even if the state has a weak case—sometimes you’re going to decide that’s what’s best for you, is just take the state’s offer of probation instead of risking 25 years in prison even though the evidence is not very strong. So really there’s several things that you need to look at, that we need to look at when deciding whether we’re going to plea bargain or take the case to trial.