The Purpose of Plea Bargaining and Why It Works
November 21, 2019
The criminal justice system in South Florida, and particularly in Miami, is crowded with cases on both the state and federal levels. There are not enough judges, courtrooms, jurors, and court reporters to handle all of the cases if each of these cases were to be resolved by going to trial.
Prosecutors and judges must avail themselves of the plea bargaining process in order to maintain a controllable docket and some semblance of order in the courtroom. In order to manage their cases, both judges and prosecutors must offer pleas. While plea bargaining works to the advantage of judges and prosecutors, there are benefits to the plea bargaining process that inures to defendants. The two main advantages for the defendant when it comes to plea bargaining are receiving reduced charges and receiving lighter sentences.
Resolutions to cases via plea bargaining occur in the hundreds on a daily basis in Miami and South Florida. The criminal defense lawyers at DMT are highly skilled in obtaining outstanding results for their clients by way of plea bargaining. While the attorneys at DMT are talented Miami trial lawyers who have tried hundreds of cases with excellent results, there will come a time in every case where a prosecutor or judge will make a plea offer. Our lawyers will never tell a client to take a plea, however, part of the process includes obtaining a plea offer and giving our clients a choice. In deciding whether or not to accept a plea offer, a client must understand the evidence or lack of evidence that will be presented to a jury. The evidence or lack of evidence must be reviewed and discussed prior to deciding whether accepting a plea is the best decision in a particular case.
Many defendants will choose to accept a plea in exchange for a reduced charge or a lighter sentence. On some occasions, defendants are facing jail or prison. A prosecutor may offer probation, pre-trial diversion, or even time served in exchange for not seeking incarceration. While this may appear to be a great deal on the surface, defendants must consider whether or not the prosecutor can actually prove their case to a jury. If there are issues in a case which may preclude a jury from convicting, a defendant should consider rejecting the plea offer and take the case to trial. Another benefit to plea bargaining is the possibility of receiving a reduced charge. A plea to a felony can have many negative effects on a defendant, including immigration consequences, the loss of civil liberties, and perhaps most importantly, the loss of professional licenses and employment. Pleas to misdemeanors do not usually have these negative consequences.
Plea bargaining on the federal level is not as simple as on the state level. While charge bargaining and reduced charges can be obtained, federal prosecutors rarely offer pleas to misdemeanor charges. To obtain this benefit, the feds will usually require some form of cooperation either by testifying on behalf of the government or by becoming a confidential informant. The feds require plea agreements to be signed, which is not typically required at the state level. While state courts judges will accept the majority of pleas based on an agreement between the state and the defendant, judges on the federal level will ultimately determine the sentence. Note that even if the federal prosecutor and the defense come to an agreement, a federal judge is not bound by this agreement and will ultimately formulate the sentence. Therefore, there is much more uncertainty with regard to the sentence that will be imposed in federal court than in state court.
If you are going to court and need Miami trial lawyers
on your side you can count on to help you through the process, contact the trial lawyers at DMT. Not all plea bargains are in your best interest. We can help you weigh all of the pros and cons so you can make an informed decision about whether or not a plea bargain is the right choice for you. Contact us by filling out the form here on our website or by calling (305) 444-0030
. Our criminal defense attorneys are ready to help.
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