As a criminal defense firm, it is not uncommon to have someone reach out saying they pled guilty in their case and want a new attorney because they realized after the fact they would suffer additional consequences that their original lawyer did not explain to them.
(Of course, if you have already been convicted and later want to ask the courts to clean up your record, you might still have some options. Possible forms of court relief can be found at our other blog post here.)
However, the best way to ensure you are informed and comfortable with your sentence is to ask the right questions before you change your plea to begin with. Here is a printable checklist of some of the big questions you might want to ask your attorney in order to know exactly what consequences your guilty plea could have:
- What is my maximum exposure if I lost at trial? Put differently, how much custody time might I get if a jury finds me guilty? This can help you weigh the pros and cons of accepting a plea deal.
- What kind of custody credits will I get? Will I have to serve 50% of my actual agreed-upon sentence? 67%? 80%? Knowing ahead of time can help you and your loved ones better plan for your future.
- Is this a serious or violent felony? In other words, are any of these charges a “strike”? If you are ever charged with a new felony offense later on, having a prior strike conviction could severely impact your punishment if convicted.
- If granted probation, will I be subject to a Fourth Amendment waiver? A “Fourth waiver” means that your person, home, property, vehicle and belongings can be searched by law enforcement at any time with or without reasonable cause.
- Will this plea affect my right to own, possess, or use firearms? This could affect your ability to seek certain employment opportunities—or just obtain one for protection—down the road.
- Will this affect my immigration status? Often, defense attorneys will give you a generic warning that certain charges might affect your immigration status in the United States or result in your deportation. Ask some follow-up questions. If your defense attorney is not sure, consider consulting with an immigration attorney before pleading guilty, as well.
If you or a loved one is interested in learning more about how to prepare before agreeing to a guilty plea, call our office at (619) 295-3555 to set up your consultation with a member of our team today.
The contents of this article and blog are for meant for informational and marketing purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Viewing and/or use of the blog does not form an attorney-client relationship. No statements in this post are a guarantee, warranty, or prediction of a particular result in your case.