Getting arrested and facing criminal charges has a way of impacting your life for more than just the time you spend in jail. Many people don’t want to deal with the interruption that court can cause in their lives. Even if they know they did not commit the crime of which they are accused, they may see it as easier and smarter to just plead guilty.
A guilty plea could mean dealing with a lesser offense on your criminal record. It could also help criminal defendants avoid missing work for a protracted criminal trial. Those benefits may be far outweighed by the potential damages that conviction can do to your life.
Whether you are facing domestic violence charges related to a fight with your spouse or an impaired driving charge after over-celebrating on a holiday weekend, you should think carefully before accepting a plea offer. The deal you make could have really negative consequences on your life.
A guilty plea means dealing with a criminal record for a long time
Pleading guilty could mean that your criminal record reflects a lesser overall charge. Perhaps instead of a felony, you only have to deal with a misdemeanor on your record. That may seem like a win, particularly if the initial offense was one that was rather serious. However, there can still be plenty of consequences to deal with.
Unfortunately, just because you plead to a lesser offense doesn’t mean the original charge won’t impact your life. The state will still have a record of the initial charges. Your future employers or even your current company could discover the charges during a background check and decide that your criminal record is incompatible with the company’s standards.
Even lower or lesser charges can lead to these issues because when you plead guilty, your employer can reasonably assume that you were guilty of the more serious offense.
A guilty plea now could affect your legal rights in the future
Say that you decide to plead guilty, potentially simply because you don’t want to deal with unnecessary stress and going to court. However, if you find yourself facing similar charges again in the future, whether they relate to impaired driving or domestic violence, you will likely face both an increase of penalties and the risk of conviction in court.
Once you have an offense on your record, the penalties you face will increase, as well the skepticism of the courts if you attempt to claim innocence. Defending yourself against initial charges can protect you from the bias that comes when you already have a criminal record.
Not everyone facing criminal charges in New York has to make the same decisions. Everyone has unique factors that will influence their case and what would work best for them. You may want to talk with an experienced New York criminal defense attorney to examine what could help improve your situation.