What Percentage of Criminal Cases Go To Trial


What Percentage of Criminal Cases Go To TrialThe other 95 per cent of cases are either dismissed, or a plea bargain is arranged between the defendant, their attorney and the prosecutor for a final compromised disposition – which usually results in either the case being set for a Deferred Judgment and dismissed at a future date if complied with the terms of the Deferred Judgment; or, is reduced to a lesser charge than the one that the person was charged with. The reality of this is that while I would like to tell you that almost everyone charged with a crime is “Innocent” of that crime, the reverse is unfortunately true: Very few people are really “Innocent”.  Rather, they are likely guilty as charged.

Often, we use the word “Guilty” in the wrong way.  “Guilty” is a word of art in the law; a finding made by a judge or jury or to which you Guilty to. Most people who are accused know that they; stole something from the store (larceny); or that they drove with a Blood Alcohol Concentration of 0.08 per cent or higher [DUI]; or that they went 20 miles, or more, over the speed limit [Reckless Driving]; or that they had marijuana in their pocket [Possession of Marijuana]? Of course, they do!   What criminal defense attorneys do is work to get their client’s criminal charge dismissed through their experience, investigation and due diligence, such as talking to witnesses, reviewing all police records and test results, etc.

Can a criminal defense attorney find Holes” in your case?

Often, a criminal defense attorney, such as myself and the attorneys in my law  firm, can find “Holes” in the cases brought against our clients by the police and the prosecutor; so even though the person is  actually technically, morally, and practically  “Guilty” of the crime for which they are charged, the prosecution may not be able to prove all of the elements of the crime or crimes beyond a “Reasonable Doubt”, and therefore, we may be able to get their charge dismissed or significantly reduced because of our due diligence and experience. Take the O.J. Simpson case, for instance; it’s a perfect example of good lawyering and the ability to have a person’s charges dismissed at trial when, in reality, they were “Guilty” of the charge.

Our job, as criminal defense attorneys, does not depend on whether the person did, or didn’t do, what they’re charged with; but rather, whether or not the prosecution can prove every single element of every criminal charge beyond a “Reasonable Doubt”; which is required by the United States Constitutions; and often the prosecution cannot do so.

If we can find just one element of their charge, for the crime they are charged with, which the prosecutor cannot prove beyond a Reasonable Doubt, then we’ll get the charge dismissed! We may find something that the police or prosecutor did incorrectly, or forgot to do; or perhaps paperwork that wasn’t done properly or was not done at all, or, there is a lack of complete evidence or good witnesses in the case; or perhaps there were incorrect or disputed test results of some kind [blood tests, drug tests, forensics tests etc.].  Then, if we find any of these problems with the police or the prosecution’s work, in favor of our client, we may have the case dismissed; or work out a “Plea Bargain” resulting in the criminal charge eventually being nolle prossed/dismissed; or, a “Deferred Judgment” entered for eventual dismissal; or the charge being reduced to a lesser charge.

Pretrial “Homework” assignments from your criminal defense attorney

In addition to the legal due diligence we do, we also strongly suggest to our clients that they do a number of “Homework” assignments that will put them in the very best light possible for presentation of their case to the prosecutor and the Judge and for any potential plea negotiations that may have to be engaged in to help our client get their charge dismissed, or reduced to a lesser charge. This “Homework” that we have our clients do is proactive actions in which they are reeducating and in essence are “punishing” themselves all before their Court date. This Homework does not cause them to admit guilt, or be held against them, in fact exactly the opposite – it puts them in a much better light with the court than if they did not do such “Homework”.

The “Homework” that we give them to do depends on the nature of the charge and any prior Criminal, or bad driving record, that they may have and, may involve such things as: doing Community Service in the Court jurisdiction where the charge exists is; drug or alcohol classes; anger management classes; restitution of any moneys out of pocket by the victim or the State as a result of the client’s actions; driver improvement classes; counseling of some sort etc. All of this “Homework” is a huge step towards a much better disposition of the client’s case than if they did not engage in such “Homework”, when trail is not an option.

When you retain an experienced and successful defense attorney such as myself and my Associates at NovaLegalGroup, P.C., then it becomes a team process.  In my Law Firm, we truly work as a “Team” with our client.

It is interesting to note that when you consider the manpower, time, money and effort it would take for every case in the judicial system to go to trial, the judicial system would simply break down and grind to a halt. There aren’t enough judges, courtrooms, prosecutors, police and investigators available to handle every case if it went to trial.  Therefore, there are a lot of incentives for the Commonwealth of Virginia to be moved towards a position where they actually want to work out a final disposition with the criminal defense attorney, for their client, to get their charge reduced, dismissed or worked out prior the trial disposition date, Otherwise, the court system would be working 24 hours a day, weekends and holidays. Also, the state budget simply isn’t there to do this for the Commonwealth of Virginia or any State, or even the Federal Government. So, the prosecution has limited time and resources to devote to the handling of the tens of thousands of cases that they have every year; and the hundreds or even a thousand or more cases any one prosecutor may have each year in the Courts of Northern Virginia.

So, the criminal justice system, in an attempt to manage the massive volume of cases it has, does have many incentives to consider dismissing or reducing criminal charges if they are prepared and presented in the most efficient, best and complete way by a criminal defense attorney. This is one of the reasons why many charges are dismissed or worked out when they’re presented properly by an experienced legal team.

2 thoughts on “What Percentage of Criminal Cases Go To Trial

  1. Pingback: What is a weak criminal case? 5 signs that a criminal case is weak

  2. David Robinson says:

    Only around 10% of cases in criminal courts, in my experience, go to trial. The majority of cases are settled early on with a guilty plea; however, some patients take longer to resolve and are paid either before or on the day of trial

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