Let’s start with the basics first; what is a plea bargain? A plea bargain is an offer made by prosecutors in a criminal defense case. The offer purports to be less than what a person who has been charged might get if they were to proceed to jury trial. Prosecution offers a possibly more generous sentence in exchange for a person to enter a plea of guilty without proceeding to trial. Each party benefits, the person being charged does not have to take a gamble in the possible sentence, and the prosecutors get a guilty plea without expending too much of the court’s resources and closing a case.
The prosecutor’s offer, or plea bargain, is not always a bad idea. Sometimes it is a good decision, and one that would ultimately be in the person’s best interest. However, to properly assess whether a plea bargain is in your best interest, it is highly recommended that you consult with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney before entering any type of plea. To be able to assess a plea bargain, the attorney needs to know the tendency of the Judge, the prosecutor’s usual behavior and offers, the Judge’s in the other courtrooms that would hear the case, the consequences outlined by the statute, and of course knowledge of the criminal justice system. To make better sense out of this, let’s consider an example.
Let’s consider Danny. Danny has been arrested for driving under the influence. His case is being heard in a Los Angeles Courthouse. Danny hires a Los Angeles DUI Lawyer, who appears in that specific courthouse on many cases. Danny has no prior criminal record, his blood alcohol level was barely over the legal limit, and he had changed a lane without signaling, prompting officers to pull him over. Danny’s lawyer knows that this is a weak case for prosecutors, from his extensive experience. However, he knows that the Judge in the arraignment court is tough, and allows little, if any leniency on cases. Using his Judgment, Danny’s attorney pleads not guilty and pushes the case for pretrial. When a case moves past arraignment, the first appearance in a case, it is set for pre-trial in another courtroom. Danny’s lawyer knows that in the pre-trial courtroom, the Judge has more room for leniency and is more willing to dismiss or reduce charges. Thus by pushing the case out to pretrial, Danny gets a much better offer from prosecutors, better than that of the arraignment court. At the pretrial, Danny is advised to enter a plea of guilty to the reduced charges that are offered. His case is then concluded.