Legal Updates

Trial De Novo: The Right to Try Again

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You are charged with a crime.  If you’re found guilty, you can be punished with at least six months incarceration.  If you win, you walk free.  If you are convicted, you can appeal and start over.  Would you fight the case?

This is the position most criminal defendants face in Philadelphia Municipal Court.  Remarkably, the vast majority choose to accept guilty pleas or negotiated offers.  A very small percentage exercise their right to fight the case, and then appeal to the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas if they lose.  The defendants who accept offers are sometimes branded with criminal records that will affect employment, living, and social opportunities for decades.

The state has the burden of proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.  A reasonable doubt is the highest standard in our legal system.  Some cases do not lend themselves to trial.  If the facts are all against you, it may pay to take a good deal.  But if you’re unsatisfied with the offer, exercise your right to a trial.

If convicted, you may have an automatic right to try again.