What You Probably Don’t Know About Plea Bargains
Table of Contents
- What Is A Plea Bargain?
- Four Types Of Pleas
- Not Guilty Plea
- Guilty Plea
- No Contest
- Alford Plea
- Different Types Of Bargains
- Charge Bargaining
- Sentence Bargaining
- Count Bargaining
- Are Plea Bargains Legally Binding?
- Why Do 95% Of Cases End With A Plea Bargain?
- Why Are Sentences Usually Reduced For A Guilty Plea?
- Negotiating A Plea Bargain
- Are Plea Bargains Available In All Cases?
- Is There A Time Limit On Making A Plea Bargain?
- Do Constitutional Rights Apply To Plea Bargains?
- Does The Judge Have To Accept A Plea Bargain?
- Is A Lawyer Needed To Plead Guilty Or No Contest?
- Who Decides To Accept A Plea Bargain?
- Can A Defendant Plead Guilty If They Are Not?
- Can I Withdraw My Guilty Plea?
- Municipal Court Information
- Contact The Trial Lawyers At Krupp Law Firm
What Is a Plea Bargain?
Plea bargaining is the process that a criminal defendant charged with a crime(s), agrees to waive their constitutional right to a jury trial. The defendant will be given the opportunity to enter a plea other than guilty to the original criminal charges. In exchange, the defendant agrees to plead guilty to a lesser charge, serve probation, serve a shorter sentence, or other options. 97% of all federal convictions are obtained through plea bargaining, not a jury trial.
There is a fair amount of controversy surrounding plea bargains. When a person is charged with a crime they might take a plea bargain with a guilty plea when they may be innocent. The reason for this is they might be scared into accepting a guilty plea by the prosecutor or a public defender who just wants to avoid a jury trial and end the case quickly. For example, the prosecutor can threaten a defendant with 20-40 years in prison if they are found guilty by a jury. Alternatively, they can bargain accepting a guilty plea of lesser charge(s) for just two years in prison. Even innocent people may want to avoid even the slightest chance of losing the jury trial and serving the 20-40 years.
- Plea bargains eliminate surprises. With a plea bargain, you know the outcome.
- Your criminal defense lawyer can negotiate with the prosecutor until an agreement can be reached.
- Can save you time and money. Criminal cases can take weeks to resolve in court.
- The defendant will have to plead guilty to charges and face some sort of punishment.
- The defendant waives their constitutional right to a jury trial. The defendant waives the right to defend themselves. The defendant waives their right to remain silent.
- Limits your ability or waives your rights to appeal.
- There may be more disadvantages to a plea bargain. Contact a trial lawyer at Krupp Law firm immediately to discuss your case.
For this reason, you need strong advocates on your side. The Krupp Law Firm attorneys are tough analytical trial lawyers who will fight for you.
Four Types of Pleas
Not Guilty Plea
The defendant denies and wants to contest the charges. A not guilty plea forces the prosecutor to prove you are guilty. The burden of proof is on the government. The government must prove guilt beyond a 'reasonable doubt' before a jury. This is referring to the common statement "guilty until proven innocent".
Initially, all defendants enter a plea of not guilty.
The defendant may plead guilty instead of forcing the prosecutor to prove their guilt. Usually, a defendant pleads guilty as part of a plea agreement.
If the defendant pleads guilty the judge will ask whether the defendant is pleading voluntarily, knowingly, and understandingly. The judge is ensuring that the defendant has not been coerced or threatened into pleading guilty.
If the defendant is pleading guilty as part of a plea bargain with the prosecutor the judge wants to make sure the prosecutor will do what they promised.
No Contest Plea also known as "Nolo Contendere" or "NOLO"
Different Types of Bargains
Are Plea Bargains Legally Binding?
Why Do 95% Of Cases End With a Plea Bargain?
Why Are Sentences Usually Reduced for a Guilty Plea?
Negotiating a Plea Bargain
Plea bargaining is a negotiation between the Prosecutor and the Defendant. The Prosecutor is offering a 'deal' to the Defendant to avoid a lengthy and expensive trial. The Prosecutor may offer lesser charges, shorter jail/prison sentence, or other options in return that the Defendant pleads guilty to lesser charges. The Judge does not have to accept a plea bargain but will a majority of the time.
The 'deal' the prosecutor offers is to save the state time and money while closing the cases quickly. The major problem is that many defendants plead guilty even when they are innocent out of fear. If the Prosecutor is throwing every charge possible at you it may come with a lengthy jail/prison time. The plea bargain then looks tempting even to innocent defendants just to avoid the possibility they spend a long time in prison.
This is why you need a tough, aggressive criminal defense lawyer with the experience to get a better plea bargain or get the charges dropped altogether.
Are Plea Bargains Available in All Cases?
Is There a Time Limit on Making a Plea Bargain?
Do Constitutional Rights Apply to Plea Bargains?
Does the Judge Have To Accept a Plea Bargain?
Is a Lawyer Needed To Plead Guilty or No Contest?
Who Decides Whether To Accept a Plea Bargain?
Can a Defendant Plead Guilty if They Aren’t?
Can I Withdraw My Guilty Plea?
Yes, you can challenge your guilty plea. You can allege and prove the guilty plea was not knowingly and voluntarily made. You can:
- file a motion for a new trial or
- writ of Habeas Corpus.
Missouri law states that you have 30 days to file a motion for a new trial or to amend a judgment.
According to the ACLU, The "Great Writ" of habeas corpus is a fundamental right in the Constitution that protects against unlawful and indefinite imprisonment.
Habeas corpus protects the constitutional right that a prisoner is treated fairly during the trial.
Both 'motion for a new trial' and habeas corpus allows a person to make allegations and provide evidence that a guilty plea was not knowingly or voluntarily made.
We highly recommend you consult a lawyer when withdrawing a guilty plea. This is a complex sitution. If you are successful in withdrawing your guilty plea you will have to start all over defending your case.