Plea Agreements

Lawyer for St. Petersburg Criminal Charges

Often defendants agree to reduced sentences or lighter charges in exchange for pleading no contest or guilty where a plea agreement can be reached. In St. Petersburg, you may be able to enter into a plea agreement when a prosecutor is made to see the weaknesses in his or her case. Generally, prosecutors do not want to go to trial on weak cases. Trials tend to demand significant resources and time, and it would be better to reach a deal. Each plea agreement has its benefits and disadvantages, and what a prosecutor may offer you depends on the particular facts of your case. It can be harder to get a plea agreement nailed down when a crime is considered heinous and violent. An experienced St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney like Will Hanlon can use your lack of prior criminal record or other mitigating circumstances to negotiate a deal on your behalf.

What are Plea Agreements in St. Petersburg?

Plea agreements are agreements whereby the prosecutor and defense attorney have reached an agreement about how a defendant will plead to charges in exchange for a benefit, whether that’s a lighter sentence or lighter charges. There is no requirement that a prosecutor offer you a plea agreement. Rather, the prosecutor possesses considerable discretion over whether to offer such an agreement, and representation by a skillful attorney can affect whether you are offered one and how good the one you are offered is. The ultimate responsibility for the sentence lies with a trial judge.

Prosecutor’s Role in Devising Plea Agreements

Under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.171, a prosecuting attorney can negotiate with the defense attorney or defendant who is not represented in order to reach an agreement that, if the defendant enters a plea of nolo contendere or guilty to a particular charge or a lesser offense, the prosecutor will: abandon the other charges; recommend or agree not to oppose the defense’s request to get a particular sentence, with the understanding that a trial judge can’t be bound by the recommendation; agree to a particular sentence; or talk to the victim and any other interested people and advise the trial judge of their views. A prosecutor is also required to let the trial judge know about all material facts related to both the crime and the defendant’s background before a plea is accepted by the trial judge.

Defense Attorney’s Role in Reaching Plea Agreements

In most cases, a defense attorney can negotiate a better plea agreement that what you would receive on your own. However, a defense attorney needs to have your agreement and consent for the plea agreement to go forward. Your attorney cannot finalize a plea to which you don’t agree, and in fact, he is prohibited from concluding a plea agreement on your behalf without your full and complete consent. Your attorney should let you know about all plea offers, relevant matters that impact what plea should be entered in your case, potential alternatives, and the likely outcome of the plea.

Trial Judge’s Decision

Once a plea agreement is reached, a trial judge should be told what the plea argument is and for what reasons the plea should be accepted. The judge will let the defense and prosecution know whether other factors make acceptance of the plea impossible.

Generally, charges are formally read at an arraignment, and at that point you’ll be asked to enter your plea of guilty, no contest, or not guilty based on the plea agreement that was reached.

Consult a Dedicated Criminal Defense Attorney in St. Petersburg

When you accept a plea agreement, you waive your constitutional right to trial. It’s important to hire a skillful a criminal defense lawyer who can discuss with you the consequences of accepting a prosecutor’s offer of a plea agreement, or not accepting it. If you are concerned about a St. Petersburg plea agreement, you can consult Hanlon Law. Our principal has defended the accused since 1994. Please contact us at (813) 228-7095 or via our online form.

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