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Plea Bargaining

Going to trial is perceived as risky since it is nearly impossible to predict how a jury will decide. To settle a case without going to trial, state prosecutors will likely offer a plea bargain. This “bargain” typically includes a lesser sentence and charge than the original crime in exchange for pleading guilty.

Of course, plea deals have their advantages and disadvantages, so it’s advised you consult with an attorney before accepting a deal.

Criminal Defense Attorney in Nassau County

Accepting a plea bargain will result in a criminal conviction, which may result in lost rights or privileges. Consult with Law Office of Stephanie Selloni before agreeing to a plea bargain.  Stephanie Selloni will evaluate the terms of the agreement and ensure accepting is in your best interest.

Call (516) 972-1212 to schedule a time to speak with Ms. Selloni. She defends clients in Nassau County, Suffolk County and Westchester County.


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What is a Plea Bargain?

A plea bargain is an arrangement between prosecutors and the defense to settle a case. This deal is a way for prosecutors to get a guilty plea on a case that would have otherwise gone to trial. Nearly 90% of criminal convictions stem from negotiated plea deals. Meaning less than 10% of all criminal cases actually make it to trial.

As mentioned earlier, going to trial is considered risky. Before a defendant has the chance to plead, prosecutors will list the charges and their maximum penalties. To avoid going to trial and to end a case quickly, prosecutors will propose a deal that includes lesser charges and penalties in exchange for a plea. 

A plea deal is not valid unless it’s approved by a judge. A judge has the discretion to accept or reject the bargain. In making their decision, a judge will evaluate whether the proposed sentence is suitable for the seriousness of the offense, the defendant’s character and their criminal record.  

A plea bargain cannot be overturned once a defendant enters their plea. However, when both parties agree on a plea requiring a defendant to meet certain conditions, the court will continue to have jurisdiction over the case until the conditions are satisfied. A judge can reject the plea and resentence the defendant if they fail to satisfy the conditions.

Prosecutors will not offer a plea deal if they decide to hold the defendant to the charges. When this is the case, it will be up to a judge to decide sentencing per sentencing guidelines within the New York Penal Law.   


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Pros and Cons of Plea Bargains

Accepting a plea deal is often the best course of action for most defendants. That being said, there are advantages and disadvantages to accepting a plea bargain. Speak with an attorney before accepting the deal to ensure doing so is in your best interest.

Listed below are some of the pros and cons of accepting a plea bargain:

Pros

  • Lighter sentence: Perhaps the most significant advantage of accepting a plea bargain is a reduced sentence. Accepting may reduce prison time to jail time and prevent a defendant from spending more time behind bars.  
  • Reduced charges: Reduced charges is another major advantage of accepting a plea deal. By accepting, a defendant may be able to have a charge reduced from a felony to misdemeanor or a reduced degree of a crime with a lesser sentence.
  • The case is over quickly: A case is over once a guilty plea is entered. If a defendant had been in jail because they were not able to bond out, they may be released if they have no jail time to serve. Accepting also reduces the uncertainty of how the case would end had it gone to trial. 

Cons

  • Criminal record: The biggest drawback of accepting a plea deal is acquiring a criminal record. Had the case proceeded to trial, a defendant may have had the chance to be acquitted of the offense. However, the conviction may be eligible for sealing.
  • Best interest of the prosecutor: A state prosecutor may offer a plea bargain because there are problems with their case. For instance, they may lack credible witnesses or evidence linking a defendant to the offense. By accepting the deal, a defendant may be admitting to a crime that could have easily been disproven. 
  • Pressured into accepting: The most problematic aspect of accepting a plea deal is an innocent defendant feeling pressured into accepting the bargain. This often happens when a defendant does not have legal representation. 

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Additional Resources 

Plea Bargaining | New York Courts – Visit the official website of the New York Court System to learn more about plea bargaining. By accessing the site, you can gain a basic understanding of the deal and how accepting the deal may impact your criminal record. You can also learn about sentencing and the collateral consequences of certain convictions.

Plea and Charge Bargaining | U.S. Department of Justice – Follow the link provided to read a research summary over plea bargains conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice. You can find out how many cases end in plea deals, what typically happens to defendants who do not accept a plea and policy implications that may improve the system. 


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Criminal Defense Lawyer in Garden City 

You may find yourself in plea bargaining negotiations if you are facing criminal charges. Accepting the deal is an important decision that should not be made without first consulting with a criminal defense lawyer. Stephanie Selloni has proven experience negotiating plea deals and can advise you on the likely outcome of your case.

Call (516) 972-1212 to schedule a consultation with Law Office of Stephanie Selloni. We are based in Garden City but regularly assist clients in areas such as Medford and White Plains.

 


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