Every criminal defendant in the State of California and the rest of the United States is entitled to a trial by a jury of their peers for most criminal charges. This right is an inalienable one and cannot be infringed upon by law enforcement, prosecutors, or the courts. However, if every single criminal defendant did receive a full trial, the criminal justice system would likely come to a grinding halt. In many cases, prosecutors will offer a plea deal to defendants. Plea deals, also known as plea agreements or arrangements, usually provide the defendant leniency in exchange for a guilty plea to at least some of their charges. This way, prosecutors secure a conviction, you spend less time behind bars, and a trial is completely averted. Los Angeles County criminal defense lawyer Eric D. Davis explains whether you can enter into these kinds of agreements on your own, or whether you need the help of a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer to get a plea deal in LA County.
A plea deal or plea agreement is when prosecutors reduce charges and penalties or drop some counts for the defendant if the defendant agrees to plead guilty or no contest to certain crimes, like gang crime charges in Los Angeles. Prosecutors are commonly faced with enormous caseloads and taking every single case to trial may be difficult if not impossible. By offering a plea deal, they can secure convictions without having to go to trial. Defendants benefit from plea deals as well because they are often given reduced charges with lighter sentences than they would receive if found guilty at a trial.
Plea deals may seem very tempting to defendants who are stressed out and scared. However, you are not required to accept a plea deal, and the defendant may freely accept or refuse the offer. Refusing to accept a plea deal should not result in any consequences or retaliation from the prosecutor, and they cannot legally upgrade your charges or increase your sentence because you did not wish to accept a plea deal.
Plea deals are not offered in every case, either, and you sometimes need to negotiate to get a deal in the first place.
Whether or not a plea deal is the best option for you should be discussed with a criminal defense attorney in San Bernardino like Eric D. Davis. Plea bargains offer the benefits of a reduced sentence and allow you to avoid a trial, but your appeal options may be limited. It can also be more difficult to appeal a guilty plea than a guilty verdict if you actively admitted guilt. A qualified Los Angeles felony defense lawyer should help you negotiate the best plea deal possible before you accept anything.
Plea deals may be arranged at any time during the trial process. Often, a prosecutor will extend an offer for a plea deal before your trial begins. However, a prosecutor may wait to extend the offer until after the trial starts. It is even possible to accept a plea deal once the trial is over, but before the jury returns their verdict.
Generally, the prosecutor is the one who initiates the plea negotiations. They will speak with your attorney about the terms of the offer, your attorney will then relay this information to you, and you will choose to accept or refuse. Your Glendale criminal defense lawyer can also try to negotiate terms to potentially reach a better deal.
If you want to take a plea deal but the prosecution has not offered one, your attorney can reach out to prosecutors and let them know you are amenable to an agreement and what kinds of terms might work to get you to plea guilty. However, if prosecutors decide not to extend a plea deal, you must go to trial.
Plea deals do not last forever. Most prosecutors will put an expiration date on their offers so they don’t waste time and money preparing for trial only to have it end in a plea. You will typically be allowed some time to think things over, but if you cannot make up your mind before the trial begins, the offer may be revoked.
While some prosecutors will allow you to accept a plea deal at any time throughout the trial, many will withdraw their offers once the trial begins. Prosecutors may also renegotiate offers once trial starts, which might not be as good of a deal as an early plea offer. It is crucial that you discuss all aspects of a plea offer, including any expiration dates, with your Diamond Bar criminal defense attorney before moving ahead with trial.
Ultimately, the judgment of whether it is better to enter into a plea deal or fight the case at trial is your decision. For some, the rigors of trial and the fear of a lengthy prison term may make a plea deal seem like the best option. Other defendants want their day in court and insist on fighting until the bitter end no matter what. You should discuss your case with our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers so we can help you weigh the pros and cons of accepting a plea deal versus going to trial before you make a decision.
Determining which option is best will also depend on the terms of the plea agreement. Not all plea agreements are good deals. Sometimes they can feel unfair and might not make it “worth it” to give up your right to a trial. Knowing the extent of your charges and potential penalties is the first step to understanding whether your plea deal is worth it. Consult with your attorney to determine whether a plea deal is right for you. A Riverside, CA criminal defense attorney can help you negotiate the terms of the plea deal with prosecutors until you come to something both parties can agree on.
Plea agreements are common in the criminal justice process. Without plea agreements, defendants would end up waiting years for their trial because the system would become very backed up. A plea deal can reduce your charges and sentence in exchange for your plea of guilty or no contest. Whether or not a plea deal is your best option will depend on your unique circumstances. You should discuss any possible plea deal thoroughly with your Los Angeles County and San Bernardino criminal defense attorney. Call Eric D. Davis, Attorney at Law, at (626) 628-9596 to speak with an experienced Los Angeles probation violation attorney about negotiating a plea deal in Los Angeles County, CA.
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