Facing criminal charges is an overwhelming ordeal even in a best-case scenario. If you find yourself confronting additional unexpected charges, the panic and uncertainty can become truly debilitating and you might feel that you will do anything to escape the situation.
This is a tactic known as “overcharging,” and it is something that prosecutors can utilize as an extension of their right to decide what charges to bring against a defendant. The morality of overcharging is questionable, and you need to know how to react if you become a target of this behavior.
Understanding why prosecutors overcharge
The common rationale behind overcharging is to secure a plea bargain from the defendant. When faced with several criminal charges, an individual may be quick to admit guilt to one crime in exchange for the dismissal of all other charges. Indiana trial court statistics show that of the 2021 cases not resolved through dismissal, deferment, default disposition or assignment to a violations bureau, 27.6% have a reported resolution through a guilty plea or admission while the report indicates a full trial process for the remaining 72.4%. This statistic exemplifies the willingness of many defendants to plea guilty in order to avoid an arduous trial.
Combatting instances of overcharging
When overcharging becomes apparent, your defense team can move to have the extra charges dismissed. Otherwise, your best option may be to build a strong defense to combat the charges of which you know you are innocent.
Overcharging is often an abuse of power which defendants feel powerless to overcome. However, it is important to exercise the full extent of your right to defend against the charges against you in order to protect your freedom.