Over 90 percent of criminal cases prosecuted in the New York, on both the state and federal levels, never end up in trials. Plea agreement are entered into that dispose of a criminal case short of a trial.
Because of the extreme importance of the plea bargaining process in the criminal justice system, people charged with a crime needs 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 truly active manner. Having a criminal defense attorney on board during the investigatory phase of a case provides a suspect a much needed buffer with investigatory personal and law enforcement. His or her rights and interests are best preserved in the midst of a criminal investigation.
When it comes to a pre-indictment or pre-charge negotiation process, counsel for the suspect is the individual that needs to reach out to the prosecutor’s office. A layperson being investigated for a crime simply is not in a positon to take this type of step effectively, if really at all.
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, he or she must have the skills necessary to appropriate stand the 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 place in writing. Unfortunately, not all criminal defense attorneys do not 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 in 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 the 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 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.