Many of us are conditioned to think every criminal case winds up being decided by a jury. The right to a trial by a jury of your peers may be popular on television, but it isn’t actually a common occurrence. Many cases end with an agreement between the defense and prosecution that often results in a favorable outcome for the defendant. This is known as a plea bargain.
What is a Plea Bargain?
A plea bargain is an agreement where the defendant agrees to plead guilty or no contest to criminal charges in exchange for the prosecution reducing the charges, having the remaining charges dismissed, or preventing further charges from being filed. A plea bargain can occur during any stage of the criminal proceedings, up to the moment a jury returns ready to give its verdict after deliberating.
The primary reason plea bargains are common in criminal cases is because they allow for a quicker resolution of your case and also allows both sides to avoid the uncertainly of an adverse jury verdict.
A defendant will often be offered a plea bargain in a case that results in far less punishment than what his or her maximum sentence could be if he or she were found guilty after trial. The prosecutor may want to avoid the possibility of a jury finding an accused not guilty, and so will offer a lesser charge and/or a reduced punishment. In reality, if every criminal case went to trial, it would be impossible for our judicial system to function because there are not enough judges or courtrooms to be able to have all cases go to trial.
The Judge’s Role in Plea Bargaining
While plea bargaining moves the legal process along faster, it doesn’t eliminate the need for a judge. In fact, the judge often plays a crucial role in plea negotiations. A judge often will discuss the case in his/her chambers with the prosecutor and defense attorney.
The judge does not have to accept a plea bargain agreed upon by both parties, but in a high percentage of cases the court approves such agreements. In some cases, the judge can tell the accused what sentence he would impose if the defendant pleads guilty, and that offer from the judge may be a lesser punishment than the prosecutor may have offered. This is how many cases are resolved over the prosecutor’s objection.
Nothing is more important when selecting your attorney in a criminal case than his/her knowing the true value of a case. As with any negotiation, you must know what a good result would be before you begin to negotiate with the other side.
At Wallin and Klarich, we take the time to research the strengths and weaknesses of your case, and we discuss them with you before we discuss a settlement of any kind with the prosecution. We also find out what your realistic goals are for a case outcome. It is only then that we are ready to help you obtain the best result possible in your specific case.
Contact the Orange County Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich
If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges in Orange County, it’s important to have a skilled defense attorney guide you through the complicated legal process. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have more than 35 years of experience defending clients and knowing when it is better to accept a plea deal or take a case to trial.
With offices in Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside, San Diego, San Bernardino, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Ventura, Victorville, and West Covina you can find a dedicated Wallin & Klarich attorney near you no matter where you are located.
Call us now at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.