If you are currently facing criminal charges, it is likely that you are anxiously awaiting your trial hearing. And just like many others in your position, you have questions and concerns about the court process and the potential outcomes you face. To give you some peace of mind, continue reading to learn some answers to the most frequently asked questions about criminal court outcomes. This may relieve your anxiety while awaiting your court date.
What are the Possible Outcomes in Criminal Court?
Because there are so many different type of charges, the outcomes vary greatly. It all depends on a defendant’s charges, criminal history, the state, and many other factors. Some common outcomes include guilty verdict, not guilty verdict, charges dropped, charges dismissed, charges reduced, mistrials, and more.
What Will Happen if I Plead Guilty?
You should only plead guilty if it is recommended by your criminal lawyer for the purpose of a plea bargain with the state prosecutor. Pleading guilty means you admit to committing the crime, understand the charges and the guilty plea, and waive your right to trial jury. Upon pleading guilty, you can expect to have a sentencing hearing scheduled with a few weeks or months. During your sentencing hearing, the judge will hand down your sentence, penalties, and court orders.
What Will Happen if I am Found Not Guilty?
You will have it on your record that you were charged with the crime, but never convicted. However, you may be able to have the charged expunged from your criminal record. Upon being found not guilty, you will be released from custody and court supervision, and you cannot be convicted of the same crime later on.
What Will Happen if I Plead No Contest?
Pleading no contest is not allowed in all states. When defendants enter a no contest plea, or nolo contender, it means they are not admitting guilt to the crime in question, but they surrender to the courts punishment. Although the defendant does not admit guilt, they are still sentenced as if they are guilty.
What Will Happen if I Miss My Court Date?
Missing your court date is a serious offense. Not only does it impede your current case, it adds on a separate criminal charge that comes with additional penalties. In rare cases, a criminal lawyer can waive the penalties for a missed court date if there is sufficient evidence that the client had no choice (i.e. emergency hospital stay, serious accident, etc.) A death in the family, work, and other similar life occurrences are not acceptable excuses to the court.
What Happens After a Mistrial?
Both the criminal lawyer and prosecutor can motion the court for a mistral for several reasons, including juror misconduct, inability to reach a verdict, law enforcement errors, and more. If granted, prosecution can sometimes retry the case. But most often, it puts defendants in a double-jeopardy situation, so it is not retried.
What Happens if All Charges are Dropped?
If your charges are dropped, you will not go to trial. The prosecutor drops charges for several reasons, including inadmissible evidence, lack of evidence, uncooperative victims, and more. Although your criminal record won’t show an actual conviction, it will show that you were once charged with the crime. In this case, you may qualify to have it expunged from your record.