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Plea Bargaining Lawyers

Plea Bargaining Lawyers and the Settlement of a Criminal Case

Over 90 percent of criminal cases prosecuted in New York, on both the state and federal levels, never end up in trials. Plea agreements are entered into that dispose of a criminal case short of a trial.

Importance of Legal Representation

Because of the extreme importance of the plea bargaining process in the criminal justice system, people charged with a crime need legal representation from plea bargaining lawyers. By this, it is meant that a criminal defendant must be represented by an attorney with solid experience in the plea bargaining process.

Pre-Indictment, Pre-Charge Negotiation

The reality is that the plea bargaining process can begin even in advance of the handing down of an indictment or a person being formally charged with a crime. In some situations, a person is subjected to a more prolonged investigation before an indictment or charge occurs.

The bottom line is that a person who knows he or she is being investigated by law enforcement agents is best served by retaining legal representation in a truly active manner. Having a criminal defense attorney on board during the investigatory phase of a case provides a suspect with a much-needed buffer with investigatory personnel and law enforcement. His or her rights and interests are best preserved in the midst of a criminal investigation.

George FernandezGeorge Fernandez
14:16 30 Apr 24
Excellent 10 out of 10, Helped resolve my case. Jeremy explained everything and made everything easy to understand.
21:33 24 Apr 24
If you are looking for a lawyer that listens, is aggressive where needed, and holds his word above all else, Todd is the best pick. I had hired multiple attorneys prior to hiring the Spodek Group for a white collar case. The first thing that stood out to me was the cost, as anyone going through the process and dealing with the system, money was tight at that time - especially after hiring and firing multiple lawyers. The cost was not as high as others which was definitely a plus. Todd's intake process was also unlike other attorneys. He took the time to actually listen. He cared. He was trying to put himself in my shoes while I was explaining the situation to him and he really took the time to understand the whole situation. Other lawyers will give you 15 mins and send you a retainer agreement. Not Todd, I think he spent almost two hours with me as I was explaining everything.Not only was he great during the onboarding process, he was supportive and very informative through the entire plea process and eventually sentencing. After hiring him, I asked if I should hire a prison consultant, he told me to save my money as he would do everything they would. He was right and held up to his word. Later on I would hear from others that went with the prison consultants that they were a waste of money - I am glad I listened to Todd!When it came time for sentencing, two days prior to sentencing, the prosecutor tried increasing my proposed prison time by almost double - apparently a normal move. Todd and his team worked with me non-stop through the weekend prior to sentencing to ensure that I was not given additional prison time. Again, he took the time to listen and came up with a strategy to explain the case with great detail.Unfortunately, I did plead guilty as that was my best option. Todd and his whole team wrote up nearly 300 pages of a summary of what happened and why I should not be given prison time. If I breakdown the amount I spent with Todd versus the amount of work that I saw being done, I am shocked I was not charged four times as much. The other benefit was, a lot of criminal defense lawyers were just a single attorney with a paralegal or two. Todd had a team of people that I dealt with (5-7 people that I interacted with), but he was ALWAYS accessible. It would never take him more than an hour to reply unless he was in court.I was sentenced to prison and I was emotionally distraught. Todd and his team did whatever they could even after sentencing to make sure I was alright. He personally stayed in touch with my family to ensure I was doing alright and offered support to them. Most lawyers would consider the job complete at sentencing, not Todd.After prison, Todd still spent time with me to make sure I was on the right track and avoiding any potential risks in the future. He has also been giving advice on how to navigate probation etc and has not been looking at the clock for billing.Although I wish I had never been arrested in the first place, I am glad I had Todd and his team in my corner. Without them I likely would have had to spend a lot more time in prison than I did.Thank you, Todd, and the entire Spodek Law team, for helping turn what was a nightmare into a manageable situation!
Yelva Saint-PreuxYelva Saint-Preux
19:26 19 Apr 24
I am immensely grateful to the entire team at Spodek Law Group for their unwavering dedication and exceptional expertise throughout my case. From our initial consultation to the final resolution, their professionalism and tireless advocacy made all the difference. Their strategic approach and attention to detail instilled confidence in me every step of the way.Thanks to their hard work and commitment, we achieved a truly favorable outcome that exceeded my expectations. Not only did they navigate the complexities of my case with precision, but they also provided invaluable support and guidance during what was undoubtedly a challenging time. I cannot recommend Spodek Law Group highly enough, especially attorneys Todd Spodek and Claire Banks; they are beacons of excellence in the legal profession.YSP.
Katherine SunKatherine Sun
18:08 18 Apr 24
my lawyer is Alex Zhik. Efficient, patient and professional
Nun yaNun ya
17:48 18 Apr 24
Todd, Ralph and Alex are amazing. Helped my husband get from a double digit number with multiple charges to a single digit, by the time I blink he will be out. They very professional and help with all your needs. They dealt with my anxiety and worry very well and they understand that your family member needs to get home as soon as possible.
Keisha ParrisKeisha Parris
20:45 15 Mar 24
Believe every single review here about Alex Z!! From our initial consultation, it was evident that Alex possessed a profound understanding of criminal law and a fierce dedication to his clients rights. Throughout the entirety of my case, Alex exhibited unparalleled professionalism and unwavering commitment. What sets Alex apart is not only his legal expertise but also his genuine compassion for his clients. He took the time to thoroughly explain my case, alleviating any concerns I had along the way. His exact words were “I’m not worried about it”. His unwavering support and guidance were invaluable throughout the entire process. I am immensely grateful for Alex's exceptional legal representation and wholeheartedly recommend his services to anyone in need of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Alex Z is not just a lawyer; he is a beacon of hope for those navigating the complexities of the legal system. If you find yourself in need of a dedicated and competent legal advocate, look no further than Alex Z.
Taïko BeautyTaïko Beauty
16:26 15 Mar 24
I don’t know where to start, I can write a novel about this firm, but one thing I will say is that having my best interest was their main priority since the beginning of my case which was back in Winter 2019. Miss Claire Banks, one of the best Attorneys in the firm represented me very well and was very professional, respectful, and truthful. Not once did she leave me in the dark, in fact she presented all options and routes that could possibly be considered for my case and she reinsured me that no matter what I decided to do, her and the team will have my back and that’s exactly what happened. Not only will I be liberated from this case, also, I will enjoy my freedom and continue to be a mother to my first born son and will have no restrictions with accomplishing my goals in life. Now that’s what I call victory!! I thank the Lord, My mother, Claire, and the Spodek team for standing by me and fighting with me. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with this team. I’m very satisfied, very pleased with their performance, their hard work, and their diligence.Thank you team!
K MarK Mar
01:37 25 Jan 24
I recently had Spodek Law Group represent me for a legal matter in NYC and I am thoroughly impressed with their services.Alex Zhik secured the best possible outcome for my case.It was a seamless journey from the initial consultation to the resolution of my legal matter. From the moment I spoke to Todd about my case, his enthusiasm to help was evident, setting a positive tone for the entire experience. The efficiency and professionalism displayed by the team is commendable.A particularly noteworthy aspect of their service is their user-friendly portal to upload your documents/evidence. This not only simplified the process, but showcases their commitment to streamline the client experience.Lastly, in an industry where legal fees can often be a concern, I found their pricing to be very reasonable, making needing legal assistance feel accessible and stress-free.I am grateful for their support and wouldn't hesitate to turn to them again in the future.

Negotiation for a Plea Agreement following Indictment or Charge

Negotiating a meaningful plea agreement in a case demands that a New York criminal defense attorney have sufficient experience. To state that a great deal is at risk in hammering out a plea agreement that truly benefits a person charged with a crime epitomizes the concept of understatement.

Not only does a New York criminal defense attorney need to understand the underlying law and the unique facts and circumstances of a case, but he or she must also have the skills necessary to appropriately stand their ground with a prosecuting attorney. He or she must be able to protect legal rights and interests through adept negotiations.

How to Retain Plea Bargaining Lawyers

The first step in retaining the services of New York plea bargaining lawyers is scheduling an initial consultation with a criminal defense attorney. As a general rule, a New York criminal defense attorney does not charge a fee for an initial consultation.

At a preliminary appointment about a criminal case, an attorney will provide a general evaluation of the matter. A person facing criminal prosecution has the opportunity to respond to any questions he or she might have regarding a case, including the ins and outs of negotiating a plea agreement.

Specific Information About Plea Agreement Negotiations

A considerable amount of discussion with a plea bargaining lawyer will focus on the prospect of reaching a settled or negotiated plea agreement with the prosecutor, whether that be on the state or federal level. Considerations to bear in mind when contemplating entering into a plea agreement include a defendant’s own perceptions regarding his or her guilt as to the charges being leveled in a particular case.

A primary consideration in the negotiation of a plea agreement also includes working to obtain some kind of commitment regarding sentencing. In the final analysis, two elements more than anything else motivate a person charged with a crime to try and broker a plea agreement.

First, a defendant strives to have some charges dismissed or reduced. Second, a person charged with a crime strives for the least penalty possible at the time of sentencing. More often than not, the focus is on reducing or eliminating a term of incarceration.

Keep in mind that it is crucial that a plea agreement be placed in writing. A capable attorney understands the importance of a plea agreement being placed in writing. Unfortunately, not all criminal defense attorneys have outstanding plea negotiation techniques.

Finally, a person charged with a crime needs to understand that any sentencing commitment made by the prosecutor in a criminal case is not concrete. The judge presiding over a criminal case is the individual who makes the final decision regarding sentencing issues.

Are Plea Bargains Enforceable?

Many people facing a court case following an arrest are given so many options, hear so many legal terms, and are forced to make decisions on the fly. It’s confusing for anyone who is not well-versed in the law, and that’s why many people hire an attorney to represent them in a case such as this. If you’ve been arrested for a crime that’s being taken to court, you have many options presented to you. You can plead guilty or innocent of the crime. You can go to court, or you can settle. You might be offered a plea bargain. It’s imperative you understand what a plea bargain is and how it works for you before you make any decisions. Your attorney is here to help you understand what it means, and whether a plea bargain is enforceable.

What is a Plea Bargain?

The basic definition is an agreement. A plea bargain is the compromised agreement your attorney makes with the attorney prosecuting your case. This agreement is mutually satisfactory for both sides, and it’s usually one that allows you to face a smaller penalty for your crimes. Your attorney will agree to this if he or she doesn’t believe your case will have a favorable outcome in the courtroom.

With a plea bargain, the prosecuting attorney typically works with your attorney to forgo one or more of the charges they want to bring against you. This requires you plead guilty to the crime, or it requires you to plead no contest. Your charges are typically dropped to something lower and less severe in terms of the penalties thrown at you, and the prosecuting attorney will then ask the judge in your case to consider a lesser charge so you have lesser penalties.

This is something prosecuting attorneys like because they essentially win the case. Defense attorneys will turn to this if they feel they might not win the case, or if the evidence is stacked against you. It’s also something many criminals choose because they can guarantee they have a specific sentence that’s shorter and less serious versus going through a trial that might last for months at a time with no guarantee what the outcome might be.

Are Plea Bargains Enforceable?

You’ve been arrested, and your chances of going to jail for a crime scare you. Your attorney approaches you with an offer for a plea bargain. You have a decision to make. You can say no to the plea bargain and opt instead to head to court for a trial. This means a jury is selected, evidence is shown, and any witnesses to your crime are brought in to testify. You might be able to convince the jury you are not guilty of the crime, but there’s no guarantee you can do that. You face a serious sentence if you cannot prove your case, and it could mean long-term jail or worse. This is a decision you must make.

You can go through the trial and hope for a good outcome that sets you free right now, or you can be sentenced to spend the rest of your life or a very long time in jail for your crime. Or you can take the plea bargain offered to you by the prosecuting attorney and say you did it, but take a much lesser sentence. This is guaranteed, and your chances of spending less time in jail are almost always granted.

That said, there is always a chance you might accept a plea bargain in your case only to find out the judge on your case doesn’t approve of the plea bargain. In this instance, the plea bargain you’ve accepted is not enforceable. It’s entirely up to the judge to approve or deny your bargain, and they might decide your crime is bad enough to warrant no plea bargain. There is no guarantee a judge is going to accept the terms of this offer.

It’s also important to note the prosecuting attorney can offer you anything he wants, but he can only recommend this to a judge. The judge is not required to do what the prosecuting attorney suggests, which is where it becomes tricky for the person on trial. You have a decision to make if a plea bargain is offered to you. It’s a personal decision, and it’s not one anyone else can help you make. You do what’s right for you, and your attorney will help you understand what the terms mean, how the conditions work, and what your future looks like as a result.

The Pros and Cons of a Plea Bargain

There may come a time when a resident of New York is arrested and charged with committing a crime. When this happens, they will have a variety of options when it comes to their legal defense. It is possible for individuals to choose to go to trial and fight the criminal charges against them. There are also situations where a person may need to consider if a Plea Bargain could be their best option. Some individuals believe if they take their case to trial, they will regret it. Others will ignore a plea bargain and choose a court trial. An attorney is able to explain the advantages and disadvantages of a plea bargain when it comes to an individual’s situation.

Plea Bargain

This is an agreement between the defense and prosecution in a criminal trial. It lists the details of pleading guilty to a crime and accepting the punishment as a way to avoid experiencing a long trial and more. A plea bargain takes the decision of the outcome of a case away from the jury process. This is a situation where a person is pleading guilty to a lesser charge. When this happens, they could avoid being convicted of very serious criminal charges and receiving the punishment associated with them.

Plea Bargain Advantages

Uncertainty Eliminated: This is a way for a defendant in a criminal case to determine their own fate. They will not be subjected to the uncertainty of a criminal trial. It’s a way for a defendant to receive lesser charges and a reduction of the punishment they could receive if they lost their case at trial. Plea bargains have helped individuals avoid the death penalty, life in prison as well as decades of incarceration.

Lighten Caseload: A plea bargain is also beneficial for prosecutors. This makes it possible for them to reduce their caseload. A plea bargain will assure there is a conviction. This is attractive even if it is for a lesser criminal charge. In cases involving multiple defendants, a plea bargain will give a prosecutor more time to build a case against any other co-defendants.

Prevents Additional Criminal Charges: When a person is charged with a crime, it is common for the prosecution to try and charge as much as is permitted by law. A plea bargain will enable a defendant to not experience all of the evidentiary requirements of a trial. This means a defendant’s case will not be made worse by evidence gathering by law enforcement. If other crimes are discovered, a defendant will also be charged with them.

Speeds Up Legal Process: A trial can take a long time, a defendant, as well as a prosecutor, may not get what they want when it’s over. A plea bargain will make things move to a conclusion much quicker. Should a defendant get a sentence they can accept, they may be able to put things behind them much sooner.

Plea Bargain Disadvantages

Unfair Emotional Pressure: A plea bargain offer from a prosecutor usually comes with a time limit. This can put a defendant under tremendous pressure to make a decision. The process of a plea bargain is one that’s very controlled. Even with this control in place, the agreement to plea bargain can still be coerced.

Innocent People Plead Guilty: It is possible for a person to be innocent of a crime and not have sufficient legal resources to gather the necessary evidence to prove their innocence. A plea bargain makes it possible for an innocent person to be punished for a crime they did not commit because they don’t have the ability to succeed at a trial. There are many situations where an innocent person may take a plea bargain because losing at trial could be much worse.

Poor Case Investigation: In some cases, a plea bargain has led to lawyers not taking the time to prepare a case properly. It has also caused police investigations to be less than adequate. This is because some in the judicial system pursue a pleas bargain rather than trying to get justice.

No Justice For Victims: It is possible for a person who has committed a terrible crime to plea bargain to a lesser crime. They may serve only a fraction of the punishment they would have received if found guilty by a jury. This often makes crime victims, and their families feel betrayed by the criminal justice system.

What is Plea Bargaining?

Strategic plea bargaining is an essential part of the criminal justice process. There is no question, that the more criminal cases are disposed of through plea bargaining than through hearings and trials. Part of the NY criminal defense lawyer’s job is to provide the best plea bargain for their client and let the client make an educated decision whether to attempt to win at trial or accept a plea bargain. Plea bargains are governed by the criminal procedure law as well as formal and informal policies at particular district attorneys’ offices. Felonies are governed by CPL 220.10 and misdemeanors are governed by CPL 340.20 for misdemeanors. The goal in plea bargaining is different for felonies than it is for misdemeanors. For misdemeanors, the goal is to obtain an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal (“ACD”), or a sealed violation. In felony criminal cases, the goal is to obtain the lowest permissible offense which the defendant could plead guilty to and the minimum permissible sentence under that offense.

Plea Bargaining Rules

  • A criminal defendant can plea guilty to the entire information or indictment except for the charge to murder in the first degree unless the district attorney and the court consent.
  • If the indictment or criminal court information charges only one count, then the defendant can plead guilty to a lesser included offense to cover the indictment or information. This can only be done with the consent or the district attorney and the judge.
  • If the indictment or criminal court information charges more than one count, then with the consent of the assistant district attorney and the judge, the defendant can plead guilty to:
    • One or more, but not all of the offenses charged
    • A lesser included offense with respect to any of the offenses charged
    • Any combination of offenses charged and lesser included of the other offenses charged

If you are charged with a misdemeanor, the defendant can plead to an information or can waive their right to an information and plead to a criminal complaint. In New York, a criminal defense attorney can recommend the defendant waive prosecution by information, the right to a pre-sentence report, and formal allocution. A pre-sentence report can be waived as long as the defendant is not sentenced to any of the following: a) a term of probation, b) a term of city time in excess of 90 days and c) consecutive terms of imprisonment aggregating more than 90 days.

A pre-sentence report can still be waived by mutual consent of the parties and the court if:

  • A sentence of jail has been agreed to by all of the parties and will be satisfied by the defendant’s already served jail time (time served)
  • A sentence or probation has been agreed and has been imposed
  • A pre-sentence report has been prepared in the prior 12 months, or
  • A sentence of probation has been revoked

If a defendant charged with a misdemeanor waives the pre-sentence report then they can be sentenced at the time of plea. They “stand ready for sentencing.” In New York City, is it common to dispose of misdemeanor criminal cases by accepting a plea to a violation such as disorderly conduct under PL 240.20 or harassment under PL 240.25.

The plea bargaining restrictions for indicted felony criminal cases in New York are:

  • If the highest charge in the indictment is for a non-drug class A felony, the lowest permissible plea is to a C violent felony
  • If the highest charge in the indictment is for a class A1 drug felony, the lowest permissible plea is to an A2 drug felony.
  • If the highest charge in the indictment is a class A2 drug felony, the lowest possible plea is a class B felony
  • If the highest charge in the indictment is a class B violent and armed felony, the lowest possible plea a criminal defendant can get is a C violent felony
  • If the highest charge in the indictment is a class B violent (not armed) felony, the lowest possible plea a criminal defendant can get is a D violent felony
  • If the highest charge in the indictment is a class B drug felony, the lowest possible plea a criminal defendant can get is a D felony
  • If the highest charge in the indictment is a class B felony, the lowest possible plea a criminal defendant can get is a class E felony
  • If the highest charge in the indictment is a class C violent felony, the lowest possible plea a criminal defendant can get is a class D felony
  • If the highest charge in the indictment is a class C non-violent felony, there are no limitations.
  • If the highest charge in the indictment is a class D violent felony, there are no limitations.
  • If the highest charge in the indictment is a class D felony, there are no limitations
  • If the highest charge in the indictment is a class E felony, there are no limitations.
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