When a person faces a criminal charge, they’re likely to think that they’ll have to go to trial. This is largely a result of the way the law is represented in media. There are entire TV series that promote the idea that any offense will land someone in court in front of a judge and full jury.
This really isn’t the case. In fact, most cases never make it to the court. If every case did have to go to court, the wait time to have yours heard would be excessive. It’s likely impossible for every case to be heard.
Most cases settle before heading to trial
It’s the reality that most cases settle long before they reach trial. This may involve a plea deal, where the defendant accepts a reasonable penalty in exchange for leniency or not going to trial, or it may be because the case is dropped for not having enough evidence.
It’s pretty rare that a criminal case would go to trial. That being said, if you believe that you have a strong defense and know that you shouldn’t be charged for what you’re accused of, your attorney does have the skills to represent you in court.
Alternative programs may keep your case out of court
New Jersey has some alternative programs that may help keep you out of court, such as the drug courts. These courts are nontraditional in that they are designed to assist defendants who are addicted to alcohol or drugs. The goal is to get them help for those addictions at the same time as resolving criminal charges.
Not everyone can go into an alternative court program, but if your case qualifies, this could be a good way to minimize the penalties you face and to look for alternative sentencing options.
Don’t think pleading guilty is your only option
Pleading guilty to stay out of court isn’t your only option. Your attorney will go over your defense options as well as alternatives that you may want to consider. If you are offered a plea deal, they’ll also review it with you, so that you understand what that deal will do for you and if it’s smart to take it.