A plea deal is an agreement between the defendant and the prosecutor to plead guilty or no contest in exchange for reduced sentencing or dropping other charges. The deal still has to be approved by the judge. Whether or not to accept a plea bargain can be a difficult decision but you should not accept any deal before you understand your rights and what you may be giving up by taking a plea.
Most criminal charges in California can be subject to a plea bargain. This includes misdemeanor and felony offenses. However, many crimes in California can be considered “wobblers.” A wobbler is a crime that can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. A common plea bargain option is to have the prosecutor reduce the charge from a felony to a wobbler.
An experienced East Bay criminal defense lawyer will make sure you understand the charges against you, the strengths and weaknesses of your case, and the consequences of pleading guilty or taking the case to trial. If you have any other questions about plea bargains, please contact Gorelick Law Offices for a free consultation to talk about your rights and whether a plea bargain is the right choice.
Pleading at the Arraignment
In general, you do not want to plead guilty or nolo contendere to any charges before speaking to an attorney. If you plead guilty during the arraignment, you may go straight to sentencing. You generally do not get a chance to change your mind or go back. Before pleading guilty, make sure you understand your rights and all the consequences of pleading guilty to a crime in California.
Prosecutor Convincing You to Plead Guilty
The prosecutor has an obvious incentive to get you to plead guilty. The prosecutor, or district attorney, will get a “win” and will not have to go through the process of gathering evidence and putting your case through trial. The prosecutor may even pressure you to accept the deal by adding on multiple criminal charges, and suggesting that you may be subject to the maximum sentence, which could be years in prison.
The prosecutor can also play the other side of the card and appear to be offering you a great deal by recommending the minimum sentence and agreeing to drop some charges if you agree to plead to one or more charges. Do not let the prosecutor intimidate you without having someone on your side to stand up for your rights.
Public Defender Convincing You to Accept the Plea Deal
Even your public defender may try and convince you to accept a plea deal. Your public defender may not think you have a strong case. However, public defenders are also under a lot of pressure to close cases because they have such a heavy caseload. They may negotiate the best deal they can to reduce the possibility of the maximum penalties and multiple charges. If you do not feel comfortable taking the plea deal, you can contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you fight the charges and avoid a guilty plea.
Sometimes Taking the Plea Deal is the Best Option
Sometimes, a plea bargain is the best option. However, it is still important for your defense lawyer to challenge the evidence and any weak arguments by the prosecutor to get the best terms for the plea deal. Some of the benefits to a plea bargain include:
- Fewer charges,
- Minimized sentencing,
- Avoid the stress of a trial,
- Get back to your life and family,
- Predictable outcome,
- Predictable sentencing, and
- Saves time and money.
Understand All of the Consequences of Pleading Guilty
There are a number of consequences that can follow from pleading guilty that many people do not think about or understand until it is too late. Pleading guilty to a felony can limit your future prospects and opportunities, including limiting housing, benefits, jobs, and the ability to own a gun. There are also a number of immigration consequences for non-US citizens who are convicted of a crime in the U.S.
East Bay Criminal Defense Attorney
Experience matters. Lynn Gorelick has more than 35 years of criminal defense experience defending her clients facing misdemeanor and felony criminal charges in the East Bay. She can help her clients fight criminal charges or negotiate for a plea bargain to reduce the penalties of a criminal charge. If you are facing criminal charges in Alameda County and want to know your options, contact Gorelick Law Offices today.