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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.
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.
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.
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 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 case are disposed of through plea bargaining then 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 then 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 consents.
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 then one count, then with the consent of the assistant district attorney and the judge the defendant can plea 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 then 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 defendants 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 teh 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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