Legal Updates

What is an Open Guilty Plea in Philadelphia, PA Criminal Court?

In Philadelphia, thousands of cases are resolved annually at the Criminal Justice Center (“CJC”).  The CJC must efficiently resolve these cases to avoid massive backlog, and violations of defendant’s Sixth Amendment Right to a Speedy Trial.  As a result, a high percentage of cases are resolved by negotiating plea deals.  The plea deal avoids the time and expense of a trial.  It is a fast track to resolution of the case.  The bottom line is that the defendant concedes guilt in exchange for favorable terms.  

In an Open Guilty Plea, no terms are provided by the District Attorney.  The Defendant is essentially throwing themselves at the mercy of the court.  In exchange for their concession of guilt, the Defendant is hoping the judge will be merciful.  In some instances it may make sense to “plead open.”  For example, if the judge sitting on the bench has a reputation for lenience, it may be a wise tactical move.  On the other hand, nothing is guaranteed with an open guilty plea, except your conviction.

The unpredictability of sentence and lack of guarantees makes the open guilty plea a generally undesirable option. You hire an attorney to get results.  When the defendant pleads open, those results are not guaranteed.  In some limited circumstances the open plea is an effective tool.  However, it usually makes sense to be more aggressive when litigating a case at the CJC, or anywhere else in Pennsylvania.

To speak with a Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer about your legal matter, contact the Law Office of Mark D. Copoulos.  We can be reached by telephone at 267-535-9776.  Alternatively, fill out the contact form located on the “Contact” page of this website.