Attorneys and former defendants alike believe that judges may tend to give harsher sentences to those accused of crimes who choose to go to trial. However, this is an illegal practice since the right of a defendant in a criminal case to rely upon the presumption of innocence is recognized by the associated safeguard that a defendant has in the right not to testify in his or her criminal case.
California motorists face a double-edged sword if arrested when accused of driving under the influence of alcohol for drunk driving in California. Prosecutors may charge anyone with a BAC (Blood alcohol content) of .08 with not one but two criminal offenses:
California Vehicle Code § 23152(a) VC (driving while under the influence of alcohol), and
California Vehicle Code § 23152(b) VC (driving with a BAC of .08 or higher)
These charges carry serious consequences that affect the driving privilege of anyone accused of violating them in California. An experienced criminal defense counsel may help get these charges reduced or even dismissed. A knowledgeable and seasoned criminal defense attorney may also provide invaluable advice regarding whether to plead innocent in a case or even testify.
To say that judges impose harsher sentences on those who lose at trial is certainly debatable. In situations where a defendant is charged with a felony and has no or little criminal history and evidence to convict may be scarce, offering a plea deal that reduces the crime to a misdemeanor may be a possibility. If the defendant chooses to go to trial it is likely that the prosecutor would not reduce the charges but prosecute the matter as a felony case. If the prosecutor wins, the defendant will receive a harsher sentence for a felony conviction.
In the situation where a defendant has a long criminal history and evidence is seemingly insurmountable, the prosecution may offer a reduced sentence in return for a plea to spare the expense of trial as well as any necessity to make the victim testify. If the defendant chooses to go to trial and is convicted, he or she will certainly receive a harsher sentence.
However, to punish defendants simply because they wish to exercise their constitutional rights, including that right to plead innocent is an egregious betrayal of the American Constitution. it is well settled in the American legal system that to punish a person for exercising a constitutional right is a basic violation of due process, and the constitutional right to trial by jury in criminal cases is fundamental to the American system of justice.
California courts have spoken on the matter:
“. . .by increasing the penalty in the case of a defendant who chooses to rely on the presumption of innocence, to put the state to the test of proving its case, and to assert his right to a jury trial, one is in effect penalizing a defendant who asserts rights to which he is entitled.” People v. Morales, 252 Cal. App. 2d 537, 546 (Cal. Ct. App. 1967)
Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney is crucial to defend any criminal charge. The advice, guidance, and representation of experienced criminal defense counsel may be crucial to achieving the best possible result in any criminal matter. John Patrick Dolan has forty years of criminal defense experience. Contact Dolan Law Offices today at 760-775-3739 or 562-824-4007 to discuss your situation or find out more online here.