An Agreement Between the Defendant and the Prosecution
A plea bargain is an agreement between the defendant and the prosecution where the defendant agrees to plead guilty to certain charges in exchange for dropping or reducing certain charges or a lesser sentence. Plea bargains can be favorable to both the defendant and the court because the court avoids the resources involved in a trial and the defendant receives a sentence he or she feels is fair enough to agree to. But plea bargains aren't always a good deal, and the defendant doesn't get to decide what the agreement is. You shouldn't always accept a plea bargain just because it's offered. You should consider first whether the outcome is worth a guilty plea.
Not Every Plea Bargain Is Created Equal
In many cases, a defendant who agrees to a plea bargain can walk away with less severe consequences than he or she were originally facing. For example, DUI defendants can sometimes plead guilty to a reckless driving charge instead of a DUI as part of a plea bargain. Reckless driving is still a criminal charge but typically comes with an easier sentence. This is an example of a plea bargain that works in the defendant's favor and results in a quicker resolution to the case, which is in the interests of the court.
In some cases, however, a plea bargain might not get you the outcome you want. Some defendants may find that trial is their best option to getting the outcome they want and deserve. Whether or not a particular plea bargain is right for you depends on the circumstances of your case and your desired outcome.
It's a good idea to keep in mind the prosecution isn't offering you a plea bargain to let you off easy or to please you. Plea bargains must always serve the interests of justice. The plea bargain will always result in a conviction. What matters is whether you want to agree with the conviction or take your chance at a trial. The offer will ultimately be in the court's favor because the court is still convicting you. But an attorney might be able to get a better plea bargain for you or recommend you take your case to trial.
Before you agree to a plea bargain, make sure you thoroughly understand the consequences. Don't expect the prosecution to watch out for you. Different convictions have different consequences. For example, a reckless driving conviction is better than a DUI conviction in that you won't have to attend DUI school. But a reckless driving charge can result in a license suspension and will appear on your driving record, which can result in future license suspensions if you get a traffic ticket or another driving crime conviction. Also, you may lose your right to appeal if you agree to a plea bargain whereas you would have a right to appeal a trial verdict.
As you can see, there are many factors you should consider before accepting a plea bargain. You will want to make sure you understand the consequences and are OK with agreeing to them. Ultimately, you should work closely with an experienced California criminal defense attorney in your area whenever faced with a plea bargain. A plea bargain is negotiated—to some extent—and your attorney might be able to negotiate an outcome that meets your needs. An attorney can also advise you on whether or not a plea bargain is in your best interests and what the consequences of the plea bargain would be.
Again, a plea bargain will always work out in the court's favor. Your goal is to make sure the deal is more favorable than the alternative of heading to trial. An attorney can help you make that decision by advising you on the consequences of the plea bargain you are offered and your chances at trial. In many cases, plea bargains work out in the favor of both the court and the defendant. But in others, the defendant might stand a good chance at trial and may want to take that route. Plea bargains can be worked out even if you are set to go to trial, so speak with an attorney if you want to find a way to resolve your case sooner rather than later.
If you are in the Tulare, Fresno or Kings County area and have questions about plea bargains, call experienced criminal defense attorney Christopher Martens today for expert counsel. At The Law Offices of Christopher Martens, we can help you fight your charges and defend your rights. Attorney Martens has over ten years of criminal defense experience and will fight hard for your rights. Contact our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] to discuss a possible plan of action for your case.