Back in 1982, the state of California tried to ban the act of plea bargaining in response to critics who believed it should be outlawed. Proposition 8 was then passed, which was intended to prohibit plea bargaining in specific cases:
- Serious felonies, including those committed while in possession of a gun
- Violent sex crimes
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
Plea bargains were only to be accepted in cases like these where the following exceptions applied:
- The prosecution’s evidence is not enough to convict the defendant.
- The prosecution is unable to secure the testimony of a material witness.
- The reduction or dismissal of a charge will not significantly impact the sentence.
However, despite these “exceptions,” plea bargains in criminal cases still happen all the time. In fact, the majority of criminal cases in California are resolved through plea bargaining. This is because the the law does not apply during those points in a case where plea bargaining usually takes place:
- After the defendant has been arraigned
- Before a preliminary hearing
- During a grand jury investigation
If you’re facing a criminal charge, and you’re considering plea negotiations, you may want to consider speaking with a lawyer to ensure you are getting the best possible deal for your situation.
Understanding a Plea Bargain
When a defendant is offered a plea bargain, this means he can agree to plead guilty to a lesser charge to speed things up. In exchange, the more serious charge is dropped from his record.
With a plea bargain, a defendant no longer has to worry about what would happen if the case went to a trial. He could go to jail for a number of years, be charged steep fines, and/or lose his license and other privileges. Instead of taking the risk of going to trial, he chooses instead to take the plea deal and is sentenced accordingly.
The problem here is that the prosecution may offer you a deal that is less than what you deserve just to get the case over with. In fact, in some cases, the prosecution is banking on your not challenging the offer to wrap things up even faster. Meanwhile, it may sound like five years of prison time, for instance, is a great deal when one of our lawyers could have gotten it down to two…
For this reason, you should never accept a plea bargain without consulting with a lawyer first. It’s important to explore every possibility of a plea bargain, rather than jumping at the first offer that is made to you. And you can’t know what you don’t know. That’s where an experienced lawyer can help.
Waiving the Right to a Trial
When you accept a plea bargain, you are waiving your right to a trial by a jury of your peers. In some cases, this may be a wise move. However, many defendants opt out of their constitutional right to a trial by jury because they are, in fact, guilty.
Prosecutors do not typically file criminal charges against someone unless they’re sure there’s a good chance of getting a conviction. However, juries are unpredictable, and so prosecutors will offer plea bargains when they are just as skeptical of seeing the case go to trial. In fact, this may be a sign that the prosecution realizes they would lose at trial…and you would win!
This is why you should speak with a lawyer before accepting a plea bargain, especially if you are innocent of the crime you’re being charged with. If you choose to go to trial, the Simmrin Law Group will be behind you 100 percent, fighting with you to the finish. If, however, you choose to take the deal, let us review it first to ensure you’re not waiving a trial you should otherwise take advantage of.
Considering a Plea Deal? Call Us First!
It can be tempting to take a plea bargain to have your case be over and done with. However, the prosecution does not have your best interests at heart. They just want to be done with your case so they can get your case file off of their desk. One of our experienced criminal defense lawyers can review the deal you’ve been offered to determine whether it’s really the best deal for you.
If you’re considering taking a plea, fill out the form to the right, or call us at (310) 997-4688 first. We can offer you a free consultation with no obligation to retain. Don’t let the prosecution play with your future. Call us today!