The Basics of a Plea Bargain: Pros and Cons

More than 90% of all criminal cases do not make it to jury trial. Instead, they end in plea bargains – sometimes to the benefit, and sometimes to the detriment of criminal defense clients.

What is a Plea Bargain?

A plea bargain is an agreement between a defendant and a prosecutor, in which the defendant agrees to plead guilty or no contest (nolo contendere) in exchange for the prosecutor to drop one or more charges, reduce a charge to a less serious offense, or recommend to the judge a specific sentence (which is usually a more lenient sentence). As our court system becomes more crowded, prosecutors and judges alike feel increased pressure to move cases quickly through the system, and trial is a time-consuming and expensive endeavor. As a result, both criminal defense attorneys and prosecutors typically strike up a deal to avoid the headache.

Plea bargains may occur any time after the arrest and before the trial.

Negotiating plea bargains is a relatively simply strategy that most attorneys will initially attempt on behalf of their clients. Over time, prosecutors and police have taken up a few tricks which will affect a defendant’s ability to negotiate a favorable plea bargain, especially without the assistance of an attorney. For one, they typically over-charge defendants in order to set the bar high prior to entering into plea negotiations and to get a higher rate of ‘guilty’ pleas or conviction rates. Additionally, to deal with a large influx of similar cases, prosecutor’s offices may offer defendants a standard deal, which is offered to all defendants charged with the same crime. As a result, sometimes it is relatively easy to get a lesser charge, but sometimes defendants are also faced with feeling ‘pushed’ into pleading guilty for something, in a plea deal because of overzealous prosecution.

Plea Deals in DUIs

Plea deals are regularly sought for California DUI cases because the penalties are so severe. The most frequently reduced DUI charges are a “wet” reckless and a “dry” reckless under the CA Vehicle Code 23103.

A wet reckless is typically the first level of DUI reduction that the prosecution will consider. It just refers to a crime where alcohol was involved). If you are convicted with a “wet reckless” instead of a DUI, you will face less jail time, reduced fines, and not mandatory license suspension. A skilled attorney may even get a potential DUI conviction down to a “dry” reckless, which means you will be charged with misdemeanor reckless driving where alcohol was not involved.

San Diego Criminal Defense, Trial, and Plea Bargaining Attorney

The Law Offices of David M. Boertje is will defend your constitutional rights with zeal and vigor and we will do everything we can to keep you out of jail, including trying to plead down your charges to your benefit. If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, do not hesitate to contact attorney David Boertje today for a free and confidential consultation.