The Factors that Affect the Outcome of Your Criminal Case
Many people charged with a criminal offense want to know: whats the likelihood or percent chance that outcome A or outcome B will happen? The law is not an exact science, and it is impossible for your attorney to put an exact percentage on certain outcomes. Some people also have friends or family that were charged with a similar offense. If someone's friend's DUI was reduced or dismissed, they expect the same result in their case. Several factors go in to determining the outcome of your case:
The Facts of your Case: Regardless of the crime for which you are charged, the evidence that the State has against you is a major factor. Things such as the availability, credibility and number of witnesses against you, as well as any photographic or video evidence (or lack thereof), and any admissions you made play a major role in determining how the State will handle your case and how likely it will be that you are convicted of the crime as charged. Furthermore, HOW the State obtained this evidence and whether it is admissible against you is critical in the outcome of your case.
Your Criminal History: A clean record will make it more likely for your charges to be reduced or in some cases, provided a chance to do a diversion program to have your charges dismissed. The worse your record, the less forgiving the prosecution will be in their negotiations. Furthermore, many crimes have stronger penalties for recidivist offenders. So if you‚Äôre facing your second or third DUI or Shoplifting offense, you will be facing a higher sentence than a first time offender if you plead guilty or are convicted after a trial.
The Individual Prosecutor Assigned to Your Case: Different prosecutors, even those that work in the same office, approach cases differently. Depending on their case volume, philosophy, and personality, some prosecutors are more forgiving than others. Some want to resolve as many cases as possible without a trial, while others don't want to give an inch, regardless of the case. Ultimately, its the prosecutor, not the Judge, who has charging authority in your case. That means that any reduction or dismissal of your case (other than one where witnesses fail to appear for trial) must come from the prosecutor.
The Individual Judge Assigned to Your Case: Much like prosecutors, Judges, even in the same city or county, approach cases differently. The manner in which they schedule their cases, and how they typically sentence certain crimes can affect the outcome of your case, as well as what the prosecutor is willing to offer in plea negotiations. Because a Judge is not required to accept the terms of a plea negotiated between the Prosecutor and the defense attorney, prosecutors will typically offer what they know the Judge will accept.
Your Attorney: How your attorney handles the investigation, negotiation, and argument of your case can certainly affect the outcome. Your attorney's relationship with you, the prosecutor, the Judge, and jury (if the case goes to a jury trial), will all impact your case.