Criminal Defense Tips: What to Know About Plea Deals
Feb 01, 2017
Anytime you plead guilty to a crime in a court of law it is serious business. When you accept a plea deal, you do not go to trial but you do face an automatic conviction. Yet, plea bargaining is common and is often recommended as a criminal defense strategy. Consult with your attorney and learn more before you make your decision. Here are some facts to consider:
- Often a plea deal involves your pleading guilty to a lesser charge. Some plea deals allow you to exchange a plea of guilty or no contest (no contest is the same as guilty, but may provide a degree of protection from civil liability on a misdemeanor charge) to one charge on the condition that another charge is dismissed.
- Guilty pleas are difficult to withdraw once they are made. This is a primary reason you need to be sure it is your best option before taking a deal.
- Plea bargaining does not require an attorney, but you are better off with one as they are professionals who can negotiate for you and give advice on whether or not to accept a particular deal.
- Plea agreements can be withdrawn by the District Attorney. So it's important to remember that a deal that is on the table could be taken back by the prosecutor if it is not accepted. Sometimes the offers get worse and sometimes they get better as the case progresses. In some counties, the District Attorney makes a practice of making the offers worse after the case goes past a certain point, such as the preliminary hearing, for example.
- In Federal Cases, it is important to know that the judge is not bound by the recommendations made in a prosecutors' plea bargain. Federal judges also cannot participate in plea negotiations. So they are free to make their sentence more or less lenient that the plea agreement.
- If you take a plea bargain, you are bound by its terms. If you violate any of them, the prosecutor is no longer required to honor the deal. For example, if a plea to manslaughter is conditioned on testifying against a co-defendant and you fail to follow through with testifying, the DA can revoke the offer, even if you have already been sentenced!!
- Prosecutors do NOT have to offer a plea deal. For some very egregious crimes such as murder or rape, they may choose not to make an offer. But, even when they have strong cases, many prosecutors will plea bargain in order to gain the conviction and keep the justice wheels turning quickly.
Contact us for more information on how a plea agreement may impact your case.
Category: Criminal Defense
Michael Mitchell is a Fresno attorney who practices in the areas of DUI, personal injury & criminal law. Visit his Google+ profile.