If you’ve been charged with a criminal offense, there is a significant likelihood that you will be offered something called a plea bargain. This process essentially allows the prosecution and defense to negotiate a deal in which the defendant enters a guilty plea in exchange for a reduction in charges. With the criminal court system being endlessly backlogged and trials with unpredictable outcomes often dragging on for weeks or months, plea bargaining is quite common. In fact, over 90 percent of all convictions are the result of negotiated pleas.
Why Might a Defendant Want a Plea Bargain?
Plea bargains allow judges to move criminal cases through the system more quickly; they also give both the prosecution and defense at least some control over the outcome of the case. While pleading guilty to a crime you didn’t commit may sound crazy, plea bargains are often appealing to defendants who just want to get back to some semblance of a normal life. With the uncertainty surrounding the outcome of a trial, a defendant may wish to take the guarantee of a lighter sentence.
If you have been charged with any type of crime, the legal team at The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian can help you determine your rights and options before moving forward with a legal strategy. With more than 16 years’ experience successfully defending clients against all criminal charges, we know how to weigh your chances of success at trial against a plea bargain. Contact us today at 855-918-4253 for a confidential consultation about your case.
California Proposition 8
Not all criminal cases are eligible for plea bargaining in California, however. Proposition 8 was passed in 1982, banning plea bargaining when the defendant is charged with a serious felony, felonies involving a gun, certain violent sex crimes, and all DUIs. There are three exceptions to Prop 8, however, and these are:
- Lack of sufficient evidence to prove the case of the prosecution;
- Witness testimony is inadequate or unavailable;
- Dismissal or a reduction of charges would not substantially alter the sentence.
But following the passing of Prop 8, plea bargains continued to roll in for serious felonies, violent sex crimes, and other ineligible cases, even when the three exceptions above were not applicable. This is because Prop 8 only applies to charges of indictment; anything prior to that is fair game.
Even for “ineligible” cases, plea bargaining can continue during the period immediately following arraignment, up until the preliminary hearing begins. During this relatively small window of time, both sides negotiate their deal. With little time to thoroughly investigate the case, plea deals are often based on insufficient evidence and data. For this reason and many others, it is absolutely essential to work with an experienced criminal defense lawyer if you have been charged with any type of crime. In some cases, plea bargains are in a client’s best interest. But not always.
At The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian, we understand the advantages and disadvantages of the plea bargaining process, and we will work tirelessly to ensure that the chosen legal strategy is right for your unique case. Contact us today at 855-918-4253 for a confidential consultation.
Charge Bargaining vs. Sentence Bargaining
Plea bargaining may be divided into two separate categories—charge bargaining and sentence bargaining. Charge bargaining occurs when prosecutors agree to reduce or drop certain charges in exchange for a guilty plea, whereas the prosecution agrees to a lighter sentence in sentence bargaining.
With the exception of cases that fall under California Prop 8, plea bargaining can occur at just about any stage of the criminal justice process, from immediately following arrest to a hung jury trial. When a unanimous decision cannot be reached (as is the case in a hung jury), the prosecution and defense may negotiate a plea bargain to avoid enduring another long, costly trial. In fact, plea bargains can even be negotiated after a conviction, during the appeals process.
Contact The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian Today
If you have been charged with or convicted of any type of crime in Orange County, the skilled legal team at The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian can help. Our experienced, highly-knowledgeable lawyers have been aggressively defending clients against all manner of criminal charges for more than 16 years. Plea bargaining is often an effective way to mitigate the damage of a criminal conviction, but it’s not always the best solution. If you work with us, you can rest assured that we will position you for the most favorable possible outcome, whether that involves plea bargaining or going to trial.
Do not attempt to navigate the criminal justice system with subpar legal counsel; we are here for you. Contact The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian today at 855-918-4253 for a confidential consultation about your case.