Plea Bargains in Utah Criminal Courts
What is a plea bargain, and should I accept it?
What is a plea Bargain?
Plea bargains are a deal that prosecutors make in many criminal cases in order to resolve cases more quickly. Plea bargains are also known by other names like plea offer, a settlement, or offering a plea. Most prosecutors carry a very high case load and most prosecution offices have limited budgets. This means that prosecution offices simply cannot afford to take each and every criminal case to a criminal trial. In order to save the time and expense of taking each and every case to trial, prosecutors engage in the plea bargaining process. In some cases, this can result in options that are very favorable to the defendant. In other cases, it may not be in the client's best interest to accept the plea bargain. It is important to understand the plea bargaining process in order to better understand whether the plea offer is truly beneficial or not.
How Does Plea Bargaining Work?
In general, the prosecutor will offer to make some aspect of a defendant’s case less serious, in exchange for the defendant agreeing to plead guilty without the time and expense necessary for a trial. As an example, if a defendant is charged with a 2nd Degree Felony, the prosecutor might offer to reduce the charge to a 3rd Degree Felony if the defendant agrees to plead guilty instead of going to trial on the 2nd Degree felony charge. If a person is charged with two third degree felonies, a prosecutor might offer to dismiss one of the felony charges if the defendant is willing to admit guilt on the other without having a trial. If the defendant is looking at potential prison time, a prosecutor might offer to recommend probation instead if the defendant agrees to plead guilty without a trial. All of these are examples of what might happen in plea bargaining, although the specific terms of plea offers vary from case to case and from prosecutor to prosecutor.
Who decides and how?
At the end of the day, the client alone makes the important decision about whether to take a plea offer, or whether to fight the case in a trial. Good defense attorneys aggressively pursue all possible options and make solid recommendations about which options are in their client’s best interest for resolving the case. In some cases, your defense attorney might advise you to turn down a plea offer because they think your case is strong enough to stand up in court. In other cases, your defense attorney may advise you that the plea offer will provide you the most favorable chances for a positive outcome in your case. Good defense attorneys will negotiate aggressively with the prosecution to obtain the best possible terms under any plea agreement. At the same time, good defense attorneys will also aggressively defend and prepare your case for trial in the event that trial is the best chosen option for resolving the case.
If the prosecution has made you a plea offer, you should consult with your attorney before making any decisions about whether you will accept or reject the offer. A strong attorney will know whether the terms of the plea offer are harsh, fair, or generous. An experienced attorney who has handled many cases will know whether other people have been getting a better deal than what was offered in your plea bargain. An attorney with extensive trial experience will be able to judge the strength of taking your case to trial versus the benefits offered in the plea bargain.
The decision to accept or reject a plea offer is one of the most important decisions to make in your criminal case. It is vitally important that you have the best possible counsel before making decisions of this magnitude. Andrew McAdams and his team are aggressive and experienced negotiators with extensive background conducting criminal trials. They work hard to pursue all options to the fullest extent and provide the client with candid advice that they can rely upon in making important decisions. Please call today or click here to schedule your free consultation with an experience Utah criminal defense attorney.