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The Plea Bargain

Happy Felony Friday!

Happy Felony Friday!

There is an art to a plea bargain. As I have said before, sometimes it is a good idea to wait and not accept the first plea offer that comes along. I spend a lot of time in South Florida’s criminal courts and see a lot of defendants that are overly eager to accept the first plea offer that comes from the state. I see this in both misdemeanor and felony cases.

A plea bargain is supposed to involve negotiating, not be an ultimatum.

It is no secret that the vast majority of criminal defendants, especially in misdemeanor cases, are not represented by lawyers. Most people simply do not have the financial resources to hire a South Florida criminal lawyer. That puts these defendants at a disadvantage when evaluating a plea offer from the state. You do not have the benefit of a South Florida criminal lawyer who has handled many cases and knows the ins and outs of plea offers. It becomes a “wing it” proposition. A decision that can impact the rest of your life is made without having all the required information.

When you accept a plea offer, it not only impacts your current charge but will score you higher if you happen to get arrested again. That means more severe penalties next time. A plea can also affect your immigration status.

Take this case example.

A plea bargain is a negotiation, not an ultimatum.
A plea bargain is a negotiation

Mr. Client is arrested for a felony, and the State of Florida offers a plea of 364 days in the county jail. The client faces the possibility of 5 or more years in state prison. That may sound good, trading a year for five, but it may not be in your best interests. You may be able to do better.

Beat the state’s case up a bit, do discovery, and depositions of the officers and witnesses. We did that in this particular case, and surprisingly, the state ended up dismissing the case altogether. This is not typical, but I usually see much better plea offers to come down as the case progresses.

Remember, the state has to have a lot of things come together to prevail at trial. Witness disappear, stories change, and cases can get weaker.

Always have all the best information in hand when evaluating a plea offer. Having a lawyer will significantly enhance your ability to assess that plea offer.

All cases are not the same.

A plea bargain or plea offer in Miami-Dade will be different than at Broward plea bargain, a Palm Beach plea bargain, or a Monroe plea bargain. A plea bargain will differ from case to case, from circuit to circuit or from court to court. The process of a plea bargain is a negotiation with the government, do not let it be an ultimatum from the government to you. Plea bargaining is supposed to involve negotiations.

If you decide to accept a plea agreement or plea offer from the state during a plea bargain, you will not be better informed to make that decision. Have a South Florida criminal lawyer help you in your plea bargain.

The decision to accept a plea bargain or plea offer could be the most critical decision you will ever make in your life.

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No part of this video is to be considered legal advice. This video is for educational purposes only. No attorney/client relationship is formed from watching this video.

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