If you are in an accident and cause injury to another person, you need to consider how to pursue your case. Whether you are being tried for civil or criminal charges, your plea can have an important impact on the consequences you receive for your actions. Just because you caused harm does not necessarily mean you are guilty of a crime, nor does it mean that your life should be torn to shambles because of one action. A good auto accident lawyer can help you to enter a plea that will limit the consequences you have to face. 

What Is a Plea?

When a defendant, i.e. someone who is accused of a crime, enters a plea, they are making a claim about their guilt in a crime. In other words, they are taking a legal stance, which they will then have to prove with the evidence of the case. A layperson might think that there are only two options—guilty or innocent—but as a good lawyer can explain, there are a multitude of pleas that you can make. 

Alford Plea

An Alford plea means that the defendant acknowledges that the prosecution has enough evidence to prove guilt but the defendant still maintains innocence. When a defendant enters an Alford plea, the judge can still hand down a guilty verdict, and the defendant may still be exposed to the legal consequences for their actions, but if subsequent civil cases follow, the defendant never acknowledged guilt, so litigants can't use such statements against the defendant. 

Plea Bargain

In the case of a plea bargain, the prosecution approaches the defendant and demonstrates that they have enough evidence to prove guilt. A repentant defendant may receive a lesser consequence than one who remorselessly maintains innocence. Thus, a prosecuting attorney may offer to seek a lesser sentence if the defendant pleads guilty to a crime. For example, if the defendant pleads guilty to reckless driving, the prosecuting attorney may recommend a fine, defensive driving classes, and stipulate that there can be no further traffic violations in a period of time. If the defendant meets these conditions, then the prosecution may arrange for any further consequences to be deferred. 

The above examples are only a couple of the options when making a plea. While it is natural to maintain innocence, a good lawyer will be able to make recommendations about how to seek the least offensive resolution after an accident.