When defendants and attorneys can’t seem to decide on a matter as essential to the case, such as whether or not to go to trial, it is usually the decision of the defendant that will prevail. Provided that the decision of the defendant isn’t illegal or unethical, the attorney should advocate for the defendant’s wishes and should either persuade the judge that withdrawing from the case is best or go ahead with the decision of the defendant.
With that said, you need to ask the right questions to ensure that you fully understand your attorney’s advice and the reasoning behind it in order to come up with the best decision.
To Plead or Not to Plead
Prior to deciding on whether to go trial or plead guilty, you’re entitled to know all viable options, and as can reasonably be expected, their potential consequences. For instance, let’s say that you’ve been charged with aggravated assault and your attorney informs you that there’s a guilty plea offer on the table, which involves you pleading to simple assault, a small fine, and six months of jail time.
Generally speaking, in cases like this, you could go to trial, plead guilty later, or plead guilty right now. Before you make your decision, however, you need to discuss the potential consequences of every option.
For instance, you can ask your attorney what will happen if you go to trial and get convicted of aggravated assault. Or what will happen if an aggravated assault conviction would come across worse if you get convicted of simple assault when applying for a job, or if you could possibly get a better plea bargain if you plead guilty later when it’s near your trial date.
Your Attorney Is Not a Fortuneteller
You may have the best attorney who specializes in criminal defense law in all of Provo, but don’t mistake your attorney for a fortuneteller or psychic, particularly when trying to figure out the likely outcomes of the options available to you.
For example, if you want to know what sentence you’ll receive if you get convicted of aggravated assault, your attorney will most likely tell you that he can’t possibly predict something like that since it will be the judge’s decision.
Additionally, when sentencing, judges will take into account many different factors that will shape their decision. Nonetheless, a competent attorney will give you all pertinent details on potential consequences of options available to your case so you can decide which option is best for you under the circumstances.
You do need to keep in mind though that your attorney has a professional duty to provide their best judgment and not necessarily what you want or need to hear.
The Right to Withdraw
Sometimes, defendants and their attorneys have immensely opposing opinions that the attorney can’t effectively execute the strategy the defendant wants. In situations like this, the defendant could seek to replace the attorney or the attorney could seek to withdraw.
However, it’s vital to note that whether the court will allow a withdrawal will depend on whether the proceedings will be disrupted or delayed or the prejudice of the prosecution.