Plea Negotiations And Agreements
Plea agreements, also known as plea bargains, are common due to courts becoming more and more crowded and the length of time that criminal trials increasing drastically. Waiting an extended period of time to take your case court can be a hassle, and it could negatively impact your case. In order to prevent this, prosecutors and judges feel an increased pressure to speed up the trial process. This objective can be easily reached through a plea deal.
By taking a plea deal, the trial process will conclude faster, and the defendant will have some control over the outcome of their case. It is more likely that a defendant will receive a harsher consequence if the case does go to trial, as opposed to settling their case through a plea agreement. Thus, a plea agreement might be your best course of action for your case. At Skeen & Robinson we strive to bring exemplary bargaining to the table. With our years of experience negotiating, we will fight for the best plea deal possible for your case.
What Is A Plea Agreement?
A plea agreement can be defined as an agreement between the prosecutor and the defendant in which the defendant pleads guilty or nolo contendere (“no contest”) in return for either lesser charges or a lighter sentence.
There are several different types of plea bargaining which can be categorized as:
- Charge Bargaining: This when the defendant pleads guilty to a less serious crime.
- Sentence Bargaining: In this situation, the defendant takes a lighter sentence than what they would have faced for the originally stated charge.
- Count/Charge Bargaining: Here, the defendant pleads guilty to only a couple of charges, and the prosecutor typically forgives other, more serious ones.
- Fact Bargaining: In this case, the defendant pleads guilty and admits to certain truths in order for the prosecutor to not state other facts and scenarios that lead to the accused’s conviction. This is the least common type of plea bargaining.
Pleading Nolo Contendere Or “No Contest”
When the defendant pleads nolo contendere to the court, they are basically saying, “I choose to not contest the charges against me,” essentially not accepting or denying the crimes they are being charged with.
When Is A Plea Agreement An Option For My Case?
Plea agreements can happen at any time throughout the trial process. Often, a plea agreement occurs when the jury is hung and having difficulty deciding on a verdict. Other times, a plea deal can be reached when a case is on appeal, after an arrest, or before criminal charges are filed.
The Process Of A Plea Agreement
The court must give its approval of the plea agreement. In an open court, the judge and defendant will talk so that the judge can be sure the plea agreement is voluntary, and that the defendant is not being held under threats or blackmail or that would cause bias. Additionally, the judge will fully inform the defendant of what the plea agreement entails, and what rights the defendant will waive by going through with one.
A judge will inform the defendant:
- In a plea agreement, the defendant forgoes the right to a trial by jury and his right to appeal
- The defendant forgoes the right to oppose those witnessing against him
- About the fines associated with bringing the case to court.
Schedule A Confidential Consultation
We offer a no-obligation consultation for you to discuss the details of your case openly. Use the online contact form or call 801-266-7414 to meet with the firm's highly qualified Utah criminal defense and malpractice attorneys. The firm is located in Salt Lake City at 5788 South 900 East, and represents clients in northern Utah. Our track record is evidence of our ability to produce positive results in high-pressure situations.