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As the client, it is always your decision whether to accept a plea offer or to force the State to prove its case at trial, and if so, whether to testify. Sai C. Lui will help you make an informed decision that may impact the lives of your family, along with your job, housing, education and ability to drive. Sai will also help you navigate potential mental health and competency issues.

Being charged with a criminal offense, whether as an adult or juvenile, is a serious matter with consequences that may go beyond a potential prison or jail sentence. The criminal or juvenile court may order you to pay restitution, fines and/or court costs; for juveniles, parents may be liable, too. Traffic offenses carry points that may impact your car insurance rates and driver’s license at a Motor Vehicle Administration hearing. Child custody and visitation orders may be influenced by an active charge or criminal conviction. Current and potential employers, landlords and schools may be able to access public records, for example, through Maryland Judiciary Case Search.

After an arrest or citation, you may face a bail bond amount set by a commissioner that could be reviewed at District Court. You may also need to deal with an outstanding warrant that may be resolved with a motion or require an arranged time for arrest and processing, in part to avoid a potential arrest after a minor traffic stop. Prompt review of the charging documents and the State’s supporting documents may lead to additional discovery requests, subpoenas and/or investigation into holes in the State’s case. Alibi and expert witnesses could be considered. The criminal case may include preliminary hearings, such as a scheduling conference or motions hearing. For a jury trial, voir dire for jury selection will take place before trial.

Preparing for trial is necessary to effectively negotiate a plea offer and to determine whether to accept a plea offer. You should consider whether a judge or jury would find you guilty of one or all of the charged offenses at trial, which the State needs to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. Your choice may impact the State’s recommendation and/or the trial judge’s order at sentencing. You may also consider the possibility of backup time from a prior offense. Remember, it is the State’s burden to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt at trial, regardless of whether you broke a law.

Unfortunately, preparing for sentencing may be necessary. After reviewing the sentencing guidelines, allocution should be prepared to argue for a less severe sentence. A potential sentence or order may include conditions other than the length and/or type of prison, jail or juvenile commitment. Depending on the jurisdiction, type of charge and outcome, a diversion program and/or criminal records expungement may be available. Later, reconsideration and appeals may be filed.