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What can be negotiated in a plea deal?

On Behalf of | Dec 30, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Certainly, if you’ve been charged with a crime you didn’t commit, you deserve a strong defense. If the evidence against you was wrongfully obtained or your rights were otherwise violated, that can result in getting a charge dropped. However, if the case against you is a valid one and you just want to put it behind you as much as possible, there are still options for minimizing the consequences to your life.

Most criminal cases never make it to trial. If they did, the court system would be more overwhelmed than it already is. That’s one reason prosecutors have a strong incentive to agree to a plea deal. This gets them a conviction without putting the time and manpower into preparing a case and risking a not-guilty verdict from a jury. So what’s in it for the defendant?

 Negotiating the charge

Getting prosecutors to agree to accept a plea to a lesser charge can save you from some of the more serious consequences of the charge you’re facing. Sometimes it’s possible to get a felony charge reduced to a misdemeanor, which can affect your employability, ability to get housing and much more.

Getting a DUI charge reduced to reckless driving or getting a sex offense charge reduced can mean fewer consequences to carry with you.

Negotiating the sentence

Getting the charge reduced will typically reduce your sentence as well. However, some plea negotiations revolve solely around getting the sentence reduced. Avoiding incarceration is often a big motivator. You may be able to avoid jail or prison time and get probation and/or electronic monitoring instead. If you’ve already served some time, you may be able to get “time served,” which means your incarceration is over.

 Don’t try this on your own

No matter how many episodes of the various Law & Order series you’ve watched, you should never attempt to negotiate with prosecutors on your own. They know the law and they plea bargain regularly. It’s crucial to have experienced legal guidance to help ensure the best possible outcome.