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S. Huband, Esq.
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Experience:  Experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney.
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16, male, florida Just recently my mom wrote a false police

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16, male, florida
Just recently my mom wrote a false police report stating that I was destructing property in her house, (which I live at) and that I threatened her with a broken shard of ceramic and that I "poked her in the breasts".
This is the first time I have ever been accused of anything and I have no idea what to do. I did in fact break dishes and a candle in the house intentionally. But did not threaten my mom or touch her. They are charging me with Battery, for which I assume is her comment on her breasts. She did not show them any evidence of me touching her and did not say she was hurt in any way. My mom made it clear to me before she called the police that this was going to be revenge or payback for what I broke.
When the police were questioning me about the incident (before arrest), they were yelling in my face and harassing me while telling me to write a sworn statement. By the time I had finished writing this statement I did not feel comfortable using it so I did not sign it, (my initials were at the top though). Then my dad arrived and they refused to let me talk to him, but letting my mom talk to me. They did not tell me any of my rights and threatened the entire way to the police station about how I'm going to get convicted of a felony and that I'm not getting out of this. (Guilty until proven innocent) Then I told them that I have stopped taking medication recently for severe anxiety. Later in the police station they tried to force me to sign the sworn statement. (Which I refused). They said I couldn't call anyone, and I had no contact with anyone the entire time I was there. I was in the dark about everything until 9:40 the next morning when I had to attend a hearing and a public defender told me what they were charging. I have an arraignment in December and I refuse to do any trial diversion program where I have to sign something saying I'm guilty to this. This happened last monday, (10/28/13) and I'm wondering what the best option is?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  S. Huband, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for the opportunity to assist you.

Q) I'm wondering what the best option is?

As with any time a person is charged with a crime or crimes, there are two basic options: have a trial or take a plea agreement.

A trial is good because you force the government to to prove its accusations against you to the most strict level of proof in our society: beyond a reasonable doubt. A judge or jury is supposed to presume you are innocent and can only convict you if the government has proven the case. You have the right to cross examine witnesses, such as your mother, the police, etc., and you have the right to call witnesses on your own behalf. You can testify, although you do not have to, and your silence cannot be held against you. If you are found not guilty at trial, you never have to worry about these particular charges again.

The problem with trial, however, is the unknown. You might win, or you might not. Trial is unpredictable, and even though you and your attorney will go into a trial with a plan, it doesn't always turn out that way. Even though your mother has manufactured this claim against you about you committing a battery against her or threatening her, if the jury believes she is telling the truth and/or doesn't believe your side of the story, then you will probably be convicted. If any of the charges is a felony, that felony conviction could stay on your record for the rest of your life. It's tough to get a job, get credit, enter the armed forces, or have a chance at a relatively "normal" life with a felony conviction.

The vast majority of criminal cases in the United States (something like 90 to 95%) never go to trial. Instead, most defendants opt for a plea. A plea agreement is good because it represents certainty. You know (or have a good idea) how the case will turn out and you don't have to worry about the risk of trial. Everyone gives up something; you give up the right to trial and the prosecution does something in return that's in your favor, such as a reduction in charges, or an agreement to dismiss charges if you take a course or go on probation, etc. Generally, it's a win for everybody.

The obvious disadvantage to a plea is that you give up the right to fight the case. You also give up the risk and the general "unknown" of what will happen that's inherent in every trial.

How do I decide?
When clients ask me whether they should take a plea or go to trial, I usually ask them two questions back. The first question is, "What's your goal? What's most important to you?" Here are some responses I get back:

I can't do any jail time;
I can't have a felony on my record;
I'll take a misdemeanor and serve time instead of risking a felony conviction.
I know I'll have to do time, but can I serve it on the weekends or get work release?
I want my day in court, and I don't care what happens.

So, what's your most important goal? What's most important to you? Once you decide that (and it might not be one of the goals listed above), tell your attorney and ask the attorney what's the best way to achieve that goal. Focus on the ONE most important goal in your mind, i.e. what's most important to you.

The second question I ask is, "How much risk are you willing to face?" Remember, no matter what happens at trial, the attorney, your Mom, your Dad, the judge etc. will ALL go home after you trial is over. YOU might or might not go home; you might wind up going to jail. How willing are you to risk that possible outcome?

If your tolerance for risk is high, i.e. you don't care what the consequences are if you go to trial, then roll the dice and see what happens. But if not, and you want to "play it safe" and have a good idea of how things will turn out, go with a plea.

BTW, many of the people I've represented, even hardened-criminal multiple time felon types, eventually decide they want to play it safe and don't want to go to trial. This is true (statistically) across the country. So, if you go with a plea agreement, you are in good company.

Parting thought
You never know if a plea agreement is truly a good deal until you reject it, go to trial, and see what happens. Then it's too late; the "safety net" of the plea is gone. I've had clients on both ends of the spectrum. Sometimes, they rejected a plea and wound up much worse off. Once client rejected a plea to dismiss the charge if he apologized to the victim and did some community service. That client wound up being convicted and sentenced to 15 years in the department of corrections. A few times, however, the client rejected the plea and we went to trial and wound up winning! (Always a pleasant surprise.) So, you never really know how good the deal is until it's too late.

I hope my response has been helpful. If you have follow-up questions or concerns on this topic, please ask. Otherwise, please rate my answer positively so that I can receive credit for my work. Doing so will NOT cost you any additional fee.

Take care,
S. Huband, Esq., Attorney
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 1284
Experience: Experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney.
S. Huband, Esq. and 6 other Criminal Law Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  S. Huband, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Hello again,

I was notified that you rated the answer I gave positively, and I am very pleased and gratified that I was able to help you. I sincerely hope the matter(s) we discussed turn out well for you.

Please ask for me in the future if you have additional questions or concerns. Thank you very much for the opportunity to assist you.

Take care,

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S. Huband, Esq.
S. Huband, Esq.
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