Three Quick Things to Consider Before Accepting a Plea in New Hanover County

Written by Thom Goolsby


Plea agreements in criminal cases help move cases through the system. Today, plea agreements resolve about of all criminal cases. Plea agreements usually involve a reduced sentence and/or reduced charges.

Some defense attorneys even refer to taking a plea in New Hanover County as “ritual begging.” The defendant does not have the upper hand in these negotiations. Regardless of the situation, it is a bad idea to negotiate from a position of weakness.

Taking a plea might be the best option in some situations. It can allow you to resolve the case quickly so you can deal with the matter and move on. HOWEVER, before you sign anything, make sure an experienced Wilmington criminal defense attorney has reviewed your case to ensure your best interests are in fact being considered and there are no avoidable, long-term implications by accepting the terms of the agreement.

At Goolsby Law Firm, we will thoroughly review your situation, offer practical guidance and ensure that your case reaches the best possible conclusion, either by negotiating a favorable plea or fighting the case in court.

Call us at (910) 356-8341, send a text, or contact us online to set up a free consultation.

When considering if a plea is right for you, it helps to keep the following things in mind:

  1. The Amount & Strength of the Evidence
  2. DNA evidence, signed confessions and unfavorable DWI breath/blood tests are examples of strong evidence in criminal cases. But, even these are not absolute. DNA evidence generally only proves the defendant was there, signed confessions may be legally inadmissible and breath/blood tests are far from perfect.

    Everything else is circumstantial. In other words: subject to interpretation. Eyewitnesses are often biased or legally incompetent, perhaps because they have no independent recollection of the event or because they were not wearing prescription eyewear. Lineups might be unreliable as well, particularly if it was not “double-blind” (neither the witness nor the administering officer knew the defendant’s identity).

    So, the State’s case is almost never as daunting as it first seems. Remember, the State must prove every element of each offense “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

  3. Your Defense Lawyer’s Ability & Experience
  4. One reason so many defendants take a plea in New Hanover County is that many attorneys can practice for years and never take more than two or three cases to trial. For them, a trial may not be an option. Such attorneys simply want to resolve cases quickly while reducing the potential penalties. While these attorneys may offer many legitimate reasons for this position, it usually does not serve you in the long run.

    Lack of criminal law experience in is another important consideration. You need someone who knows if a deal is good for you and your particular circumstances. For example: if you accept a plea in a DWI case, but don’t consider the effect on your license, you may not be able to drive to work. Likewise, if the prosecutor offers a plea in an assault case, but your attorney is prepared to challenge the evidence and witnesses at trial, you could see the charge dismissed or be acquitted.

    Attorneys who can hold the State to its obligations and humanize their clients before the Court consistently achieve better results.

  5. The Nature of the Offer
  6. Criminal convictions have serious direct and indirect consequences. In addition to jail time, a conviction could mean immigration problems, inability to obtain government assistance, like student financial aid, and the inability to get a job or a future promotion.

    Sometimes, prosecutors offer pretrial diversion or a deferred prosecution. As the names imply, such dispositions occur before the case goes to trial. In such cases, the defendant emerges with no criminal conviction. It is the same outcome as a not-guilty verdict at trial, plus there is no risk of a conviction. If these options are on the table, a plea bargain might be in the defendant’s best interests.

Speak with Attorney Thom Goolsby First

Plea bargains are usually tempting, but taking a plea in New Hanover County may not be the best idea for a defendant. It’s impossible to know, unless an experienced Wilmington criminal defense attorney thoroughly evaluates your case. This is the kind of representation you’ll find at the Goolsby Law Firm, PLLC. We have extensive trial experience, and in addition to knowing if a plea is right for you, we can tell if you will fair better by taking the case to court. We have been successfully resolving cases like yours for over twenty-five years. Thom Goolsby is ready to fight for you!

Contact us now at (910) 356-8341 for a free consultation. We’re happy to explain what you’re facing and what we can do to help.

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Contact Goolsby Law Firm Today

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    “This is what I do. This is what I love. I care about my clients. I will help you.”


    212 Walnut St. Suite 100
    Wilmington, North Carolina 28401

    Like any quality criminal defense attorney, Thom Goolsby may be in court when you first call, but leave a voice mail or send a text. We’ll get with you as soon as possible, so we can go over what happened, evaluate the case, and explain what comes next.