Evaluating Your Legal Defense Options: Plea Bargain, Bench Trial, or Jury Trial

- Lotze Mosley

At Lotze Mosley, our criminal defense attorneys in Washington D.C. have tried over one hundred cases in Washington D.C. and throughout the State of Maryland. Each of those cases was unique — and so are the ones we handle going forward — which means the defendant’s legal defense options are going to be equally unique when we represent them.

If you have been charged with a crime, and have been offered a deal by the prosecutor, you may have a lot of questions about whether to take that deal or go to trial. While the decision is solely yours, having an experienced criminal attorney by your side will allow you to make an informed decision regarding the outcome.

The more you know about your legal defense options, the more prepared you will be to confidently move forward with the process of accepting a plea bargain, proceeding with a bench trial, or jury trial.

What Is A Plea Bargain?

A plea bargain is a “deal” that is struck between the defendant and the prosecutor, where the individual will either plead guilty or no contest to the charges to reach an agreement that avoids a trial and the possible conviction of a more serious charge.

Plea bargains come in three forms:

  • Charge Bargaining
    • Charge Bargaining is the result of the defendant pleading guilty to a less serious crime than the one s/he was initially charged with.
  • Count Bargaining
    • Count Bargaining is the result of the defendant pleading guilty to a fewer number of crimes than the ones s/he was initially charged with.
  • Sentence Bargaining 
    • Sentence Bargaining is the result of the defendant pleading to a known sentence, before agreeing.

At Lotze Mosley, our Washington D.C. criminal defense attorneys will consider each segment of a plea bargain, and its impact on your future by fully reviewing the complete charge(s), the evidence, and the prosecutor’s offer, and will never make a deal without our client’s full agreement.

What Is A Bench Trial?

A bench trial is one where there is no jury, and the proceedings are overseen solely by a judge. The judge will make all fact-finding and evidentiary decisions and will determine whether the defendant is innocent or guilty.

Bench trials can work in our client’s favor, simply because the judge presiding over the case has the legal education and experience to hear the evidence and facts of the case, and make an informed decision. The disadvantage is that our clients are being judged by a single person who makes the ruling, instead of a jury of their peers.

What Is A Jury Trial?

A jury trial is one where the case is submitted before a jury of the defendant’s peers, while a judge presides over the case and courtroom.

The benefit of a jury trial is that all jurors must agree that the defendant is guilty of the crimes s/he is being charged with — beyond a reasonable doubt — or our client can be acquitted of the crime altogether.

The disadvantage of a jury trial is that juries are made of up people, and they can be completely unpredictable, which can lead to a conviction — even when we all thought we were winning.

How Can Lotze Mosley Help With My Criminal Defense?

If you have been charged with a crime, hiring an experienced and successful defense attorney is a must. At Lotze Mosley, our criminal defense lawyers in Washington D.C. and Maryland have an impeccable track record that allows our clients to move forward with their lives, and we can pursue the same positive outcome for you simply by calling our office at +1 202-393-0535 today.