Congdon Law. PLLC.

At What Point Is A Plea Of Guilty Or Not Guilty Entered In A Criminal Case?


A plea of guilty or not guilty is typically entered at an omnibus hearing, which is generally the second or third hearing that will occur during the course of a case.

How Do You Advise A Client In Proceeding With A Plea In Their Criminal Case?

The decision of whether to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty is always up to the client. In order to help them make a decision, I will review with them the charges they’re facing, the police report, the issues that may come up during a trial, what I expect to happen at trial, and which witnesses would testify for either side. We also discuss the pros and cons to accepting a plea agreement.

Should I Plead Guilty Just To Avoid The Time And Expense Of A Trial?

Pleading guilty just to avoid the time and expense of a trial would be a decision the client would have to make. While I do not charge more to take a case to trial, trials in themselves can become financially burdensome, particularly since the client will have to take time off of work. When evaluating the best course of action, I encourage my clients to consider their long-term goals and decide whether they think they will be happy with their decision several years down the road.

Will My Punishment Be Worse If I Am Found Guilty At Trial Versus Having Taken A Plea?

Whether a punishment will be more severe as a result of being found guilty at trial as opposed to having taken a plea will depend on the specific details of the case. In some cases, there are standard sentences offered by prosecutors, and most judges will adhere to those standards. However, it is often the case that once a defendant chooses to go to trial, the plea bargain will no longer be an option and the judge will have free reign to sentence as they see fit. Another consideration is that the judge will have heard significantly more evidence than they would have if there had been a plea, which could affect (for better or worse) their opinion of the defendant, and ultimately the sentence.

What Are Some Other Disadvantages To Pleading Guilty Right Off The Bat?

Pleading guilty early on in a case can be disadvantageous if all of the pertinent information and evidence has not yet been collected. For example, we might not have obtained the squad or body camera video from law enforcement, which could prove useful. In drug cases, law enforcement will often do preliminary drug testing, but there have been situations in Minnesota where the presumptive test and actual chemical analysis have produced contradictory results—the former indicating the presence of a controlled substance and the latter indicating the absence of a controlled substance; in many of these situations, the preliminary or presumptive test administered by law enforcement resulted in a false positive. If under these circumstances a defendant has already plead guilty to the charge, then they would face a conviction and all of the collateral consequences of that conviction.

For more information on Entering A Plea In A Criminal Case, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (651) 314-9620 today.

Jennifer Congdon, Esq.

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