Fighting for your innocence in court can be a daunting and overwhelming experience. Some people believe the system is stacked against them and that their conviction is guaranteed. As a result, some people may find themselves pleading guilty to criminal charges whether they committed a crime or not and resign themselves to the judge’s punishment.
Pleading guilty to a crime is a mistake you may not be able to recover from. If you have been charged with a crime in Pennsylvania, you have a right to defend yourself. After being charged with a crime, the best thing you can do is contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your attorney will review your case and help you fight your charges so that you can get your life back on track.
What Happens at My Criminal Trial If I Plead Guilty in Pennsylvania?
Before deciding how you will plead in court, it is essential to understand how a guilty verdict can impact your life. When you plead guilty in court, the judge will question you to make sure you understand what rights you are giving up and to make sure you committed the crime. When you plead guilty to a crime, you give up the following rights:
- The right to counsel (If you do not already have a lawyer)
- The right to a trial by jury
- The right to not incriminate yourself
- The right to confront your accusers
In other words, there is no turning back from a guilty plea. After the judge accepts your plea and convicts you of the crime, you cannot establish your innocence through the trial.
The Consequences of Pleading Guilty in Pennsylvania
While pleading guilty may seem like the easiest option in the heat of the moment, it can have severe, lifelong effects. Some of the consequences of pleading guilty include:
Inability to Expunge the Conviction
It is a common misconception that if you plead guilty and are convicted of a crime, you can apply for expungement later to have your record wiped clean. However, most convictions cannot be expunged. There are only limited reasons for the Court to grant expungements in Pennsylvania. For example, you could be eligible for expungement if you committed a low-level offense and refrain from getting arrested for five years. You can obtain an expungement of a more serious offense when you turn 70 years old and have been free from crime for 10 years. You might be eligible to have your case sealed. However, each of these methods are costly and the criminal record remains for a significant amount of time before expungement and sealing become possible.
Mandatory Minimum Sentences
Many crimes in Pennsylvania have a mandatory minimum sentence. This means the judge will not go easy on you for admitting your guilt, and you will have to serve a set amount of prison time.
Even after you serve your sentence, your conviction will likely still impact most areas of your life. Convicted criminals have difficulty securing jobs, visiting their children, or having relationships with others.
After entering a plea of guilty, you open yourself up to civil liability if you injured someone else in the process. Once you conclusively admit guilt in a guilty plea, you will not be able to defend a civil lawsuit based upon the same conduct.
Contacted the Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys at Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg, & Gifford, P.C.
If you have been charged with a crime in Pennsylvania, you have the right to fight the charges against you. The experienced attorneys at Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg, & Gifford, P.C. know what is at stake in criminal cases and are committed to helping you achieve the best possible outcome. Our attorneys have over 65 years of experience and are dedicated to defending their clients’ interests. To schedule a free consultation today, call our office at (215) 822-7575 or complete our contact form.