The Constitution gives you the right to go to trial if you are charged with a crime. Even so, around 94% of state felony convictions are the result of plea bargains, as are around 97% of federal felony convictions. Most criminal cases are settled through plea negotiations between a prosecutor and a criminal defense attorney. A plea negotiation may result in a plea agreement in which you plead guilty or no contest in exchange for a particular benefit. If you’re worried about what the future holds for you in after being charged with a crime, it is important to speak with a skilled St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney who can engage in plea negotiations on your behalf or take your case to trial as appropriate. Hanlon Law fights for the accused.Plea Negotiations
The prosecutor, not the police, decides whether to charge you with a crime. The process kicks off with a police report that describes what the officer sees as criminal conduct. In some cases, a prosecutor asks for more investigation. Where the evidence isn’t very good or a witness is not credible, a prosecutor may decide not bring a charge. However, more often, the prosecutor sees things from the police officer’s perspective and will pursue charges. It is important, therefore, to retain a skillful criminal defense attorney who may be able to enter into successful plea negotiations with the prosecutor. Plea negotiations are an opportunity for the criminal defense attorney to show the prosecutor why his or her case is weak.Pursuing Plea Negotiations With a Criminal Defense Attorney
Your criminal defense attorney will investigate and examine all the evidence the prosecutor is seeking to use in proving criminal charges against you. Sometimes the prosecution’s evidence is weak or weaker than she realizes. In other cases, the criminal defense attorney may be able to show a prosecutor that the jury is unlikely to react the way the prosecutor thinks they will. It may be possible to persuade the prosecutor by showing the narrative you plan to present. For example, if you know that, separate from domestic violence or sex crime charges, you are also facing a pending child custody dispute, and the other parent has raised serious charges of abuse against you simply to get custody or gain an advantage in the family law matter, we may be able to present the prosecutor with evidence to that effect and work out a plea agreement for a lesser charge.Reaching a Plea Agreement
A prosecutor may be susceptible to listening to you and your lawyer when a case isn’t solid, or when pre-trial motions have been brought to get certain evidence suppressed. For example, if you can show that the evidence of drugs on which the prosecutor is relying for a drug crime charge is evidence that was illegally seized without probable cause, the prosecutor may be willing to reach a favorable plea agreement. When going to trial involves risking an acquittal, a prosecutor may be more receptive to your arguments.
There are also situations in which a prosecutor has intentionally stacked a case, charging one cause of action that is very strong along with multiple weaker charges. Where the weaker charges are for crimes that involve greater penalties, it may be possible to negotiate to get the weaker charges dismissed by negotiating a plea agreement that involves you pleading guilty or no contest to the less serious charge that is more strongly supported.
The trial judge is the ultimate authority in your case. She is likely to listen to a prosecutor’s recommendations, but can choose to sentence you differently. For example, if you’re charged with cocaine trafficking, you will face a mandatory minimum sentence, and your plea agreement can’t go forward if it entails you getting sentenced to less than the mandatory minimum. However, it may be possible to negotiate with a prosecutor so that you plead no contest to cocaine possession, which has no mandatory minimum sentence, in exchange for the trafficking charges being dropped.Consult a Knowledgeable Criminal Defense Attorney in St. Petersburg
Plea negotiations can be complicated. If you are worried about effective plea negotiations in St. Petersburg, it is best to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer. At Hanlon Law, Will Hanlon has fought for justice for those accused of crimes since 1994. Please contact Hanlon Law at (813) 228-7095 or via our online form.