Justification is a legal doctrine that is based on the idea that it is better to be caught than to fail to defend oneself. It is often used in cases where a person was not given the opportunity to have a lawyer at a fair trial, or when a person believes that he or she was misinformed by police officers.
Justification in the criminal law is not an absolute. Rather, it is somewhat flexible and depends on the facts of a particular case. A defendant might be able to use justification in one case as an affirmative defense in another. Even if the defendant was adequately advised of his or her rights, the justification doctrine would allow him or her to plead guilty to a lesser charge because he or she believed that they would be better off with a plea bargain rather than a trial.
In any given case, a defendant will need to consult with a criminal defense lawyer to determine the factors that would qualify as a reasonable basis for justifying a guilty plea. These factors include an accident or injury, the victim's reluctance to cooperate with prosecutors, the perceived inability of a defendant to adequately prepare, the defendant's lack of intention to do anything wrong, or the defendant's age, mental illness, drug or alcohol abuse, or the circumstances surrounding the crime.
If the defendant feels that he or she was unjustifiably treated by prosecutors, or if he or she has been told that he or she would not be able to properly defend himself or herself, then a lawyer can help his or her client to determine the extent of justification that could be appropriate. However, if a defendant lacks justification, the defense lawyer will most likely advise his or her client to accept a plea deal. In some cases, the defendant may also be able to avoid conviction altogether by providing information that the prosecution would be unwilling to share in court.
Justification is a necessary part of every criminal proceeding, and it is no defense to an accused who offers a plea deal. Even if the defendant did nothing wrong, he or she could still be convicted of a crime because of an unreasonable refusal to offer up valid reasons.
Justification in the criminal law is not legally required in all cases, but it has become more important in plea deals where a defendant has offered a "not guilty" plea without any valid grounds for doing so. A defendant who believes that he or she has an adequate defense can make a rational choice and may be able to claim justification in a plea deal.
While many prosecutors prefer to see a guilty plea, a strong criminal defense lawyer can often secure a lesser sentence for a defendant if he or she is able to provide valid reasons for pleading guilty. Because of this, criminal defense lawyers are in great demand during plea deals, and it can be quite difficult to find a qualified criminal defense lawyer who is not only very good at what he or she does, but also takes on plea deals as a full-time career.
If a defendant can demonstrate that there is no valid reason for pleading guilty, the chances of success may be high. In many cases, however, it may be necessary to fight for a guilty plea, which may mean a lengthy trial. Therefore, it is advisable to discuss the case with a competent criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
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