Pleading in Criminal Court Can Vastly Impact Outcomes

On December 2nd, police allege that 28-year-old Russell Cuddeback was involved in the robbery of two Maverik convenience stores located in Layton and Clearfield. While Cuddeback and Brandy Lund waited in the get-away vehicle, their accomplice Krista Crossen stormed into the establishments brandishing a realistic toy firearm. All three suspects were arrested and charged with first-degree felony aggravated a robbery, a serious offense. Just weeks after the robbery, however, Cuddeback pleaded guilty to a lesser charge. Thanks to his plea, Cuddeback will face penalties associated with two counts of third-degree felony attempted robbery, which should result in a reduced sentence.

Possible Advantages of Pleading

Russell Cuddeback’s case is a good example of how pleading when facing gun charge or other violent offense can change many aspects of criminal court, especially the punishment phase. When a suspect pleads guilty to an offense, he or she essentially gives up the right to publicly contest charges. However, even though pleading usually leads to a sure sentence of some kind, it can nevertheless be more advantageous than going through a full trial.

First, and perhaps most importantly, prosecutors are often willing to offer reduced charges in return for a guaranteed conviction (as they did for Cuddeback). This usually means a substantially reduced punishment when it comes time for the judge to decide on jail or prison time. Furthermore, pleading reduces risk for both sides. Juries can be unpredictable, and even though a defendant is not supposed to be punished for exercising his or her right to a trial, judges often look far more favorably on defendants who save court time and resources by taking responsibility early on.

Of course, entering a guilty plea should not be taken lightly. It means a definite criminal record, and could have far reaching consequences, such as affecting immigration status or career prospects. While the ultimate outcome for those who plead guilty is usually better than for those who are convicted of all charges after a full trial, any plea decision and its consequences should be carefully considered.

Talk to Your Lawyer

If you are facing criminal charges, it is extremely important to consult with your attorney to determine the relative merits of a plea. Your attorney can weigh the strengths and weaknesses of your case and will provide you with the information you need to determine if a guilty plea is the best alternative.

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