Even if a defendant is willing to plead guilty, there are still a few hurdles to clear before the case can be resolved. You’ll need to attend your plea hearing and prepare beforehand. At a plea hearing, you’ll be given an opportunity to plead guilty or not guilty to the criminal charges you face. Plea hearings can vary depending on the court and the nature of your case, but they will almost always involve some kind of questions from the judge or prosecutor. In most cases, you won’t be able to enter a guilty plea right away, even if that’s what you plan on doing. The judge may ask for more information about your willingness to accept responsibility for the crime in question and your reasons for agreeing to plead guilty at this time. Depending on where you are in the legal process, there may also be additional requirements outlined here. Keep reading to learn more about what happens at a plea hearing and how it can impact your case moving forward.
Can You Go To Jail At A Plea Hearing?
This is a very complicated question and there are many different factors that can determine whether or not you can go to jail at a plea hearing. Generally speaking, however, there are two things that can lead to the possibility of going to jail at a plea hearing. The first is the prosecutor’s request and the second is the judge’s final decision. The prosecutor can request that you be remade into custody as part of the terms of your plea deal. The judge, on the other hand, can impose a sentence that includes jail time. In this case, you would either have to voluntarily turn yourself in or be arrested by law enforcement in order for this to take effect.
Why Attend A Plea Hearing?
- Plea hearings are usually held in order to finalize a plea agreement. This is when the court will determine if you’re truly willing to accept responsibility for your actions and agree to a certain sentence in exchange for a lesser charge or other benefits.
- At this point, you may also be asked to enter a guilty plea. You might not be given the option of not pleading guilty or of entering into a plea agreement at this point, which means that it’s time to attend your hearing and resolve the case as soon as possible.
- Because plea hearings can vary so widely, there may be different reasons for attending one. The main reason to attend a plea hearing, though, is to finalize your plea deal. You’ll want to be prepared to discuss the terms of your plea agreement in detail.
- You may also want to attend a plea hearing if you want to withdraw your not-guilty plea. You may want to do this if new evidence has come to light or if you were pressured into pleading guilty at an earlier hearing.
- If you want to change your plea to no contest, you should attend the hearing as well. The judge will probably have you state your reasons for changing your plea and may ask a few questions to make sure everything is being done voluntarily. A judge will not likely accept a plea to no contest if it’s being done under duress.
What Happens At A Plea Hearing?
- A plea hearing is a court proceeding that takes place within a few days of your arrest. It’s also the last step in the judicial process before you’re sentenced. The plea hearing will probably be held before a judge, who will ask you questions about the details of your case and your willingness to plead guilty. You’ll likely have an opportunity to speak on your own behalf during the hearing, so make sure you are prepared to answer questions about the details of your case and what you’re willing to do as part of a plea agreement.
- The exact timing of a plea hearing will depend on the circumstances of your case, but it’s likely to take place at some point after the initial court appearance. You should plan on attending your plea hearing within a few weeks of being charged, if not immediately after. It’s always best to attend a plea hearing in person, even if you can only attend by phone or video conference.
- Since plea hearings can vary depending on the court, the judge, and the charges in your case, they can be very different from one to the next. The plea hearing may begin with the judge accepting your plea, or the prosecutor and defense attorney may ask the court to accept the plea. After the plea is accepted, the defense attorney and prosecutor may then argue the sentencing.
- The judge will then accept the plea agreement and proceed with sentencing. If you’re changing your plea, the prosecutor or judge may ask you a few questions about your decision. Many judges will not accept a plea to no contest unless the defendant gives his or her reasons for changing their plea in court. This is because judges want to be sure that no-contest pleas aren’t being forced, and they want to know that defendants are making an informed decision.
What Happens If You Agree To Change Your Plea?
- If you decide to change your plea, you will usually not be allowed to call witnesses or present evidence at the hearing. You may want to take this opportunity to make sure that your decision is voluntary and that you’re not being pressured into pleading guilty. After you’ve made your decision, be sure to let the court know so they can make the necessary arrangements for your sentencing hearing.
- Your attorney can tell you what will happen at a plea hearing by asking “what happens at a plea hearing” or by calling the court clerk to find out. The clerk can also explain what will happen during sentencing if you plead guilty or have no contest.
- Even if you’re not going to take any witness stand, it’s a good idea to bring a notebook with you to the hearing so you can take notes. It’s also a good idea to bring any documents you want the judge to see, especially if they involve your case.
- If you agree to change your plea, the judge will likely want you to enter your plea again and explain your reasons for doing so. After you’ve pled again, the judge may then accept your plea and proceed with sentencing.
- If the prosecution agrees to change the charges against you, the judge will likely ask you to enter your plea again. If the judge accepts the new plea, the case will proceed as though you’d never been charged with the original crime.
What Happens If You Decide To Stay With Not Guilty?
- When someone is charged with a crime, the court will schedule a plea hearing to determine whether or not the defendant should plead guilty or go to trial. The accused will have the opportunity to speak with their lawyer and make a plea offer, as well as speak with the prosecutor.
- If you decide to plead guilty, then your sentence will be decided by the judge. If you decide to go to trial, then your sentence will be determined by a jury of your peers. A plea hearing begins when you enter the courtroom and are asked if you wish to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest.
- At this time, both sides may tell the judge what their case is and ask for an agreement on sentencing options. If there isn’t an agreement on sentencing, then both sides may argue their case in front of the judge
- If you decide to stay with not guilty, you may still be able to negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecution. Negotiations are often conducted during the discovery process before the case goes to trial. If no plea deal has been reached and the prosecution isn’t willing to drop the charges against you, you’ll have to go to trial.
- If you decide not to change your plea and go to trial, a new trial date will likely be set for some time in the future. Your case may be continued several times before going to trial, and you should be prepared to wait several months before your case goes to court.
If you’re facing criminal charges, attending a plea hearing is a big step in resolving the case. Before you attend a plea hearing, though, you should be prepared for the different scenarios that could play out. You may want to discuss the potential outcomes with your attorney beforehand. Remember that plea hearing are often just the beginning of a lengthy legal process. Be prepared to wait as the court determines your trial date and resolves your case.