Most criminal cases in Los Angeles are settled via plea bargain. A plea bargain is an agreement made between you and the prosecutor wherein you agree to plead guilty to a charge against you, provided the prosecution offers you a deal in exchange. Such a deal can mean a reduced prison sentence (or none at all), a reduction in fees, or even the dismissal of the other charges against you.
In 1982, voters in the state of California passed a measure called Proposition 8. Proposition 8 bans plea bargaining at the indictment stage when the charges fall into one of the following categories:
- A serious felony, such as one in which a gun was used
- Certain violent sex crimes
- Driving under the influence
However, plea bargains are still possible in spite of the ban because the ban only pertains to the indictment stage of the case. A defendant can still accept a plea bargain:
- After arraignment
- Before a preliminary hearing
- During a grand jury investigation
The Benefits of Taking a Plea Bargain
Most times, the defense considers a plea bargain to be the most ideal way to settle a case. This is because the benefits of accepting a plea bargain are numerous and can include:
- Less or no jail time
- A reduction in charges
- A quick, concrete resolution without the risks involved with going to trial
Our lawyers at the Simmrin Law Group can help you decide whether the plea bargain being offered to you is in your best interests.
The Risks of Taking a Plea Bargain
Often, judges will be quick to enter a plea bargain because it frees up a case on their already overcrowded calendars. They are not looking out for you. They assume that if you are accepting the plea bargain, you have thought it over, or talked it over with your attorney, and have decided that the deal is acceptable.
However, a judge’s tendency to enter plea bargains also frees up some space in the overcrowded prisons. If they know you won’t be doing much time anyway, they’re more willing to enter a plea bargain to keep you out of jail.
The problem, however, with going by the judge is that clients who are otherwise innocent are often willing to accept a deal that may not be right for them because they believe they have no choice. Ultimately, whether or not to accept a plea bargain is a tough decision, and one that an experienced lawyer can help guide you through.
The only way to know whether the plea bargain is right for you is to decide what your chances are of winning at trial. The Simmrin Law Group can review your case and help you determine whether you should proceed to trial or take the deal.
When You Should Agree to a Plea Bargain
There is no ideal time to take a plea bargain. In other words, you can accept a plea bargain whenever it is offered to you. You don’t have to wait for the case to drag on, or for it to be on the eve of trial. When the prosecution offers you a deal and if, after discussing it with your lawyer, you believe it may be the best possible option for you, you can choose to accept it.
In a way, a criminal case is similar to a matrimonial case in that the parties continue to go back and forth on the deal until they can come to a mutual agreement. However, also like a matrimonial case, the deal may only be offered for a limited time and, if the parties cannot agree, the case will proceed to trial.
However, the timing of the offer of the plea bargain – something you have no control over – can negatively impact you. For instance, if the offer is made too early, there may not be enough information available to obtain a better deal. And if the offer is made too late, then you are forced to make a snap decision or else leave your fate up to trial.
You shouldn’t be facing a criminal trial alone. Not only can a conviction take a serious toll on your personal and professional life, but it can be a frustrating waste of time, money, and other resources if you lose. The lawyers at Simmrin Law Group have years of experience handling all kinds of criminal matters – let us help.
If You’re Considering a Plea Bargain, We Can Help!
Here at the Simmrin Law Group, our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers have helped hundreds of clients determine whether a plea bargain was right for them. Now it’s your turn. Give us a call us today. We’re ready to answer your questions and help you determine your next step with absolutely no obligation to retain.