SHOULD I ACCEPT A PLEA BARGAIN?
Almost every criminal client asks this question, and it's an important question that needs to be thoroughly discussed with the client.
Basically, a plea bargain/agreement is a agreement between the client and the State, to plead guilty to certain charges and accept an agreed upon sentence. As in any negotiation, each side knows there are risks associated with going to trial before a jury. The prosecution knows there's a possibility that the client could be found not guilty and serve no sentence. On the other hand the client knows a jury could find him/her guilty of the most serious charges, exposing them to a severe sentence and lengthy jail time.
However, even if the client and prosecutor agree to a plea, it may not be accepted. Once a client pleads guilty, the probation department prepares a Pre-Sentence Report for the judge to review, before he/she decides to accept the plea agreement. If the judge rejects the plea agreement, the client's guilty plea is vacated, and the case proceeds to trial, or possibly a new plea agreement.
There are no hard and fast rules for plea agreements, and no formula for every case. Each case is dependent upon the facts; the evidence the prosecution can produce; the likelihood of being found guilty; the plea offered; the client's willingness to go through the stress of a trial, and many intangible factors, including the county the case is in, and the judge who will be presiding over the case, as well as the collateral consequences of a guilty plea, such as its effect on child custody, a government job, future employment, gun ownership, etc....
Due to the seriousness of this process, you as a client need to be fully informed of all the facts, evidence and potential consequences of accepting or rejecting a plea offer. I believe this is a client's personal decision, for him/her to make, after being having all the information and his/her questions answered. Consequently, although I will give a client my opinion of a plea offer, the final decision, and their destiny, is up to them.
If you, a family member,or friend is charged with a criminal offense, call my office for a free consultation. I'll explain the charges, and how I may be able to help you.
All the Best!
RANDY C. REDDEN