Navigating Felony Plea Bargaining
If you are facing felony charges, depending on the circumstances, a plea bargain may be your best option. Essentially, a plea bargain is an arrangement between the defendant and the prosecution wherein the defendant pleads guilty or no contest to certain charges in exchange for certain concessions from the prosecutor. In felony plea bargaining, your San Diego criminal defense attorney can negotiate with the prosecution to reach a plea agreement.
What Are the Different Types of Plea Agreements?
As California courts grow increasingly overloaded with criminal cases, prosecutors may be willing to negotiate plea bargains to move cases through the system faster. A large percentage of criminal matters are resolved with plea negotiations. Only a small percentage actually go to trial. Types of possible plea agreements include:
- Charge bargaining: The defendant pleads guilty to a lesser charge.
- Sentence bargaining: The defendant pleads guilty or no contest in exchange for a reduced sentence.
- Count bargaining: The defendant pleads guilty to certain charges provided the state drops other charges.
- Fact bargaining: The defendant pleads guilty if the prosecution agrees to omit certain facts of the case that may lead to stiffer penalties.
What Are the Benefits of Felony Plea Bargaining?
Negotiating a plea bargain can have a number of benefits for defendants, including:
- Avoiding trial and the risk of more severe penalties
- Obtaining a lesser charge or sentence
- Reducing the financial and emotional burden of a lengthy trial process
- Achieving a more certain outcome, as opposed to the uncertainty of a trial verdict
What Are the Drawbacks of Felony Plea Bargaining?
A plea bargain is not without consequences and should be considered carefully. Drawbacks of plea bargaining include:
- Having a criminal conviction on your record, which can negatively impact your future prospects
- Possibility of receiving a hash sentence despite the plea bargain
- Feeling pressured or coerced into accepting a plea agreement while maintaining your innocence
- Not receiving the same level of procedural protections as you would in a trial, such as the right to confront witnesses and challenge evidence
What Are the Factors to Consider in Felony Plea Bargaining?
Your criminal defense attorney can offer guidance in your decision of whether to accept a plea agreement. Factors to consider include:
- Strength of the prosecution’s case against you
- The potential outcome of a trial
- Your criminal history
- The severity of the offense
- Potential collateral consequences of a guilty plea, such as employment or immigration consequences
- Benefits and drawbacks of accepting a plea bargain and whether it aligns with your goals and values
Why Do You Need an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney?
Felony charges carry serious penalties, including jail or prison time. Accepting or refusing a plea bargain is an important decision that can have a significant impact on your freedom and future.
Our experienced criminal defense attorneys can negotiate skillfully with the prosecution on your behalf for the most favorable plea agreement possible. We can examine the prosecution’s case against you and discover every flaw. We can counsel you on the pros and cons and the potential outcomes of accepting a plea bargain or going to trial. If you decide to go through with the trial, we can provide a strong defense against the charges. Our seasoned trial lawyers have the knowledge, skills, and resources to help you obtain the best possible outcome in your case.
Do not face felony criminal charges alone. Contact jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys at (760) 630-2000. Our founding attorney, James N. Dicks, is a former Los Angeles Police Department investigator and a board-certified criminal law specialist who draws on his years of experience for the benefit of the clients we represent.
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