Everything You Need to Know About Plea Bargains in California
Dec. 21, 2022
Being charged with a crime can be a confusing experience. With so much going on, it may be difficult to make sense of everything. Charged individuals often consider a plea bargain as a potential solution to criminal charges, and a criminal defense attorney can help you choose the best decision for you. At McCready Law Group, our attorneys proudly serve those in Long Beach, Cypress Hill, and Lakewood, California, so reach out for detailed guidance in considering a plea bargain.
What Is a Plea Bargain in California?
A plea bargain consists of a charged individual accepting culpability for a crime in exchange for a reduced sentence. In some instances, individuals may avoid jail time, receive probation, or pay a fine instead.
For instance, an individual arrested for DWI (driving while intoxicated) can negotiate a plea bargain to avoid probation, paying a fine instead. Also, an individual charged with domestic violence may get probation instead of jail time by accepting a plea bargain. In more serious cases, such as murder, individuals accept a plea bargain from prosecutors in exchange for a reduced sentence or reduced charges.
How Are Plea Bargains Made in California?
Contrary to what television portrays, prosecutors do not grill suspects for hours and then offer a plea bargain in exchange for information.
While prosecutors may offer suspects a plea bargain in exchange for information about accomplices, plea bargains usually begin with a criminal defense attorney approaching the prosecution. However, the prosecution does not always accept a plea bargain if it believes it can convict the individual on higher charges. Additionally, the prosecution may accept a plea bargain based on the suspect’s criminal record. For example, an individual with no prior convictions has a higher chance of getting the prosecution to accept a plea bargain than one with a full rap sheet.
Please remember that a professional criminal defense attorney works with prosecutors to determine the feasibility of a plea bargain. A trusted criminal defense attorney will advise their clients to accept a plea bargain if it means avoiding a greater sentence. Otherwise, professional criminal defense attorneys would rather take the case to trial.
Furthermore, plea bargains can be made anytime throughout the legal process. They can be made before charges are filed, during a trial, or before the jury deliberates. Nevertheless, once the jury has handed their verdict, a plea bargain is no longer an option.
What Are the Pros and Cons of a Plea Bargain in California?
Let’s look at the pros and cons of a plea bargain:
The give eligibility for a reduced sentence or potentially avoiding jail time altogether.
There is a faster legal process since the case does not go to trial.
Also, there are reduced legal fees and court costs.
The individual may automatically becomes convicted of the crime(s) after a jury’s verdict.
The nature of the conviction may affect an individual’s employment opportunities, professional licensing, reputation, or standing in the community.
Plea Bargains are generally a one-time offer. Prosecutors are highly unlikely to offer plea bargains to repeat offenders.
Types of Plea Bargains in California
There are two main types of plea bargains in California:
Charge bargains consist of the defense negotiating lesser charges leading to a lesser sentence.
Sentence bargains consist of the defense accepting the charges but negotiating a lesser or reduced sentence.
Plea bargains can be a good way to avoid prosecutors considering aggravating factors. For instance, an individual charged with aggravated assault can plead a deal for assault charges only. Limiting aggravating factors can be crucial if the individual is ever convicted of another crime.
What Happens If I Agree to a Plea Bargain?
When you agree to a plea bargain, you are automatically convicted of the charge(s). You just serve your sentence depending on its nature. For instance, if you’re sentenced to probation, you must avoid violating the terms of your probation.
Please bear in mind that agreeing to a plea bargain allows you to move on with your life. You avoid the uncertainty of a trial even if you must serve a jail term. Hiring a professional criminal defense attorney is crucial to determining the best action.
Finding the Right Criminal Defense Attorney in California
At the McCready Law Group, we understand what our clients go through. That is why we strive to bust our tails to protect our clients’ right to a fair defense. Don’t go at it alone, and contact us at the McCready Law Group today. We are standing by to help you get the best legal counsel possible from a professional criminal defense attorney in California.