If you’re reading up on plea bargains, chances are, either you or a loved one has been arrested, and the prosecutor from the local District Attorney’s office is pressuring you to accept a deal. Simply put, a plea bargain is when the DA’s office offers to reduce the charges against you if you plead guilty and forgo a trial.
For example, say you’re charged with murder. The District Attorney might offer to reduce the charges to involuntary manslaughter in exchange for your guilty plea. Or they might be willing to reduce the sentence if you agree to testify against someone else involved in the crime. They might also offer to drop some of the lesser charges if you plead guilty to the primary offense.
Deciding whether to take a plea bargain is not a decision you should make on your own. Before you consider any plea bargain, make sure you have a good Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer to represent you.
The Pros and Cons Of A Plea Bargain
A plea bargain, or plea bargaining, is one of the first steps in a criminal case after you or a loved one has been arrested. Many criminal cases never make it to trial and are resolved in the early stages, when both sides agree to a plea deal. Either your defense attorney or the prosecutor can begin the negotiations.
Plea bargaining is very common for several reasons. Here are some of the motivating factors for both the defense and prosecution to seek a plea agreement:
- You as a defendant can avoid the time and money involved with defending yourself in court
- You can avoid a potentially harsher punishment if you are found guilty
- You save yourself, your family, and your business from a lot of negative publicity
- The prosecution saves the time and money involved in a trial
- The prosecution gets a guaranteed win
- Both you and the prosecution don’t have the uncertainty that comes with a jury trial
Many times, a good criminal defense lawyer can help you negotiate a plea bargain with greatly reduced charges and penalties. However, just because you, your lawyer, and the DA’s office have reached a plea bargain, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a done deal. Many plea bargains have to be approved by a judge.
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Public Defenders Are Overworked
If you have the money, hire a private attorney. Private criminal defense lawyers have the time to devote to your case. If you’re low-income, you may be offered a public defender. They are notoriously overworked and may only meet with you minutes before a court hearing.
In California’s criminal courts, four out of five felony defendants are represented by a public defender. Only 2% of felony cases make it to trial. That means that most cases are settled through plea bargaining. It’s vital that you have a lawyer able to put pressure on the prosecution to agree to a favorable deal.
It’s in the best interests of the DA’s office to get you to agree to a plea bargain because it means a quick and easy closure to a case. But a plea bargain may not be in your best interests – especially if you didn’t commit a crime.
The criminal defense lawyers at the Simmrin Law Group are on your side. The police and the DA are not. Don’t play “Let’s Make a Deal” without an experienced criminal defense lawyer sitting next to you. Once we’ve spoken to you and evaluated your case, we can discuss whether taking a plea bargain would be in your best interests.
What If I Didn’t Commit the Crime of Which I’m Accused?
If you truly didn’t commit the crime you’re accused of, or any crime at all, it often doesn’t make sense to accept a plea deal and plead guilty to a crime you didn’t commit. Yet, every year, many defendants take a plea deal even if they are innocent. This is typically done because of the uncertainty of a trial and the low rate of acquittals.
However, these numbers are boosted because of the large number of defendants represented by public defenders, who don’t have time for taking a case to court.
Here at Simmrin Law Group, our criminal defense lawyers defend all sorts of cases, from murder to traffic violations to Medi-Cal fraud. We have the expertise to investigate your case, obtain copies of the police files, find witnesses, hire experts to testify in court, and more. We know the DA’s office strategies and their limitations. We can beat them at their own game.
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Putting Pressure on the Prosecution
In order to be well-positioned in plea bargain negotiations, you need leverage. There are two things that will get the prosecution to agree to a favorable deal. The first is if the evidence against you isn’t particularly strong. The second, and perhaps more important, is that you and your attorney must be willing to go to trial.
In most cases, the prosecution wants a win above all else. They will likely be willing to accept lesser charges as long as they result in a guilty verdict. At the same time, there is usually a limit to how much they are willing to reduce the charges. To push them all the way to this limit, you need your case to be strong enough that a conviction in court would not be assured.
Additionally, the DA’s office is always swamped with cases that need to be prosecuted. Taking a case to trial really slows down the process. Hiring a private criminal defense lawyer who doesn’t share those time constraints, as a public defender does, will make the prosecution a lot more likely to agree to favorable terms to wrap things up quickly.
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Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney
We have established ourselves as one of the top criminal defense firms in Los Angeles, with a history of wins in court. We’ll work to get the charges against you dismissed, or if the case goes to trial, we’ll present a solid case to the jury and fight tirelessly on your behalf. We can’t promise you’ll win, but we can promise we’ll work for the best possible outcome of your case.
If you’ve been arrested, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side. Call the Simmrin Law Group in Los Angeles or use our online contact form to schedule a free case evaluation. We’re available to help you 24/7. Do not talk to the police until you’ve spoken with us.