While a plea deal is never anyone’s first choice, there are times when it makes sense.
Here’s when you and your attorney should start having serious discussions about plea bargaining your case.
1. When the prosecution’s case is just too strong.
This often happens when you are, in fact, guilty. You know the prosecution has plenty to go on. They know they have plenty to go on. Thanks to criminal justice reform in New York, we should now be getting disclosure early enough to know whether they have enough to go on, too. As former prosecutors, we were always pretty good at finessing the system to get it a lot faster than most. The backing of the law still helps.
Defense attorneys are not miracle workers. If you committed a crime and got caught in the act (i.e., when driving under the influence) then getting an acquittal may be untenable. If there is no strong defense we can use in your case, and if we can’t find any evidence to back up that defense because the evidence doesn’t exist, then plea bargaining is probably the logical next step.
2. When you’ve already served enough time to meet the conditions of the bargain.
Many people spend time in jail for months, even years, before they make it all the way to trial. If a prosecution offers a plea deal and includes time served you might have already served the entire sentance already.
It means accepting a criminal conviction, which can be emotionally difficult if you’re innocent. But it also means going home to your family and having more time to rebuild your life. You risk a much harsher sentence and many more years in jail if you don’t seriously consider taking the deal.
3. When we’ve worked out a really good deal.
When jail time becomes community service. When your records will be sealed or expunged when the sentence is served. When a felony becomes a misdemeanor. These are all great times to consider a plea deal.
Often, negotiating with prosecutors is a good way to defend your case. As former prosecutors ourselves we know what we can ask for. We also negotiate a lot harder than public defenders, who don’t have the time or energy to do so. We know your case inside and out by the time we’re having these discussions, and so know when and how to apply the leverage to get you a favorable outcome.
We can only advise you as to whether the deal that’s being offered is a good deal in your specific case. We are always willing to fight for you in court, if that’s your choice. And we’re prepared to tell you when that’s a good idea…and when it’s not.
Getting entangled in the criminal justice system is never easy and it’s never without consequences, even if you just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. We’re here to help you make those consequences as minimal as possible.