Switch to ADA Accessible Theme
Close Menu
Tampa Criminal Attorney
Free Consultation Call 24/7

If You've Been Arrested in Tampa Bay or Surrounding Areas, We Can Help You Immediately!

Tampa Criminal Attorney > Blog > Criminal Defense > Should I Plead Guilty?

Should I Plead Guilty?


On February 7, 1881, Alameda County resident Albert McKenzie pleaded guilty to misdemeanor embezzlement to avoid trial on felony charges. He allegedly siphoned $53 from his sewing machine company employer. His was one of the first recorded plea bargains in American legal history. In the late 1800s, the country was growing significantly, and taxpayers didn’t want to pay for more courts. Something had to lower the trial backlog, and that “something” was, and is, plea bargaining.

Nevertheless, trials still resolve a significant number of criminal cases. Sometimes, the two sides are so far apart that only mediation, in the form of a trial, can bring them together. Other times, politicians order prosecutors not to engage in meaningful negotiations. That’s especially true in DUI, domestic assault, and other high-profile criminal cases.

Whether you plead guilty or go to trial, a Tampa criminal defense lawyer is an important part of the process. An attorney thoroughly evaluates your case and then lays out all your legal options, including the pros and cons of each one. Furthermore, a lawyer stands with you throughout the entire criminal law process in Hillsborough County, from jail release to the final verdict.

Plea Bargains

Almost all pleas are agreed pleas. The defendant agrees to plead guilty or no contest in exchange for reduced charges, as was the case with Mr. McKenzie, or more frequently, a reduced sentence.

Incidentally, “guilty” and “no contest” have the same legal effect. However, there’s a moral difference. Pleading guilty is basically a confession. In fact, many jurisdictions require an allocution, which is a fancy word for a detailed confession on the record. Pleading no contest is like saying “Let’s just get this over with.” There’s no moral confession of guilt.

Other plea bargain options include slow pleas and open pleas. Slow pleas are often a good idea if the defendant doesn’t have a legal defense, but there are extenuating circumstances. After the defendant pleads guilty, a jury assesses punishment. Open pleas are, almost literally, throwing oneself on the mercy of the court. The judge could assess any punishment s/he sees fit. Open pleas are a good idea if the prosecutor isn’t willing to deal and a trial would almost certainly result in a maximum sentence.


Most trials are bench trials. The judge is both a legal referee and factfinder. As a rule of thumb, bench trials are only a good idea if the defendant has a very strong legal defense and the defendant doesn’t want to wait for a jury trial date.

A few trials are jury trials. Most misdemeanor trials have six jurors and most felony trials have twelve jurors. Usually, jury trials are a good idea if a defendant has an off-the-books defense. The so-called nerd defense is a good example. If defendants who are accused of violent crimes wear eyeglasses, jurors are much less likely to convict them.

The possibility of appeal is another reason for a trial. It’s almost impossible to appeal guilty pleas, especially agreed pleas. It’s not much easier to appeal trial convictions, although it is possible in many cases.

Work With a Dedicated Hillsborough County Attorney

A criminal charge is not the same thing as a criminal conviction. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Tampa, contact the OA Law Firm. Convenient payment plans are available.



Facebook Twitter LinkedIn
Client Reviews

"I was in the unfortunate situation of having to hire a lawyer for my grandson and since I did not know of anyone that could refer me, I had to rely on my judgement of character and when I sat down in front of Omar, I knew that I had made the right decision. He is a very professional, well versed in the law, knowledgeable young man that takes the time to explain every aspect of your case to you. He returns calls promptly, knows your case inside out and is very punctual in meetings and court hearings. I could not have chosen a better, more qualified lawyer to represent my grandson. He comes highly recommended by me and you will not go wrong in obtaining his services."

- Gloria

"It is with pleasure that we wish to recommend Mr. Omar Abdelghany in his practice as a Criminal Defense Attorney. He was hired in the defense of our son. The defense included more than one offense, which required legal maneuvering to address the issues. Omar's skills came into play in positioning the case, which resulted in a good outcome given the facts at hand."

- Ted

"Lawyer Abdelghany, has been a tremendous blessing and stress reliever, not only to me but also to my family members in need of professional help. He was understanding of my situation and worked with me financially. I am overall grateful for him and would refer all my family and friends to hire him."

- Khalil G.
View More