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Did you know that, according to the Texas District & County Attorneys Association, approximately 98% of criminal cases end in plea bargains? Plea bargains have come to play a vital role in the criminal justice system as the lack of resources, like prosecuting and defense attorneys, along with judges, juries, and other court resources, are not sufficient to process the flood of cases with a full blown criminal trial. Due to the courts and jails both being overloaded and overcrowded, prosecutors will often engage in negotiating a plea bargain with a defendant. This means they will try to reach an agreement that the defendant will plead guilty in exchange for something else, such as a lesser charge or lighter sentence.

What to Negotiate While Plea Bargaining

Plea bargaining can help a criminal defendant avoid the stress of a trial as well as negotiate for a lighter sentence. On the other side of things, plea bargaining allows the prosecutor to spare the court the time and expense of a trial when dockets are already clogged. Should the prosecutor and defendant be unable to reach a plea agreement, the case will proceed to trial. Your defense attorney will use their experience in criminal practice to help negotiate the most favorable plea deal. Should the prosecution make a plea offering, it is your attorney’s responsibility to discuss it with you and you will have final say as to whether or not the deal will be accepted.

There is often some room for negotiating in plea bargaining. To start off negotiations on the most solid footing, it can be important to find out what kind of deal a defendant can expect to receive considering their individual circumstances and those surround their case. In many instances, an experienced criminal defense attorney will already have some idea what kind of plea deal can be expected from the prosecutor. If not, your attorney can reach out to other defense attorneys to gather more information.

The sentencing guidelines can and should also be reviewed to find out what kind of plea deal can be expected. Sentencing guidelines are used by courts to see what punishments should be recommended in specific criminal cases. The guidelines, however, are just that. They are guidelines and judges and prosecutors are not required to follow them, but they can be informative to get a sense of what type of plea deal may be put on the table.

An important part of negotiating a plea deal is also reviewing the strengths and weakness of your case. Consider the factors that the prosecutor will likely consider during the negotiation process. These factors will include:

  • The prescribed range of punishment in the applicable statute
  • The severity of the crime
  • The criminal history of the defendant
  • The rights and interests of the victim
  • The rights and interests of the community
  • Recent dispositions from similar cases

Your attorney will use the strengths of your case and minimize the weaknesses in your case to negotiate the best possible plea bargain. It is also important to note that your attorney is likely to gain more information about the prosecution’s case during the plea bargaining process. This can be valuable to the negotiations themselves, but also in the event that your case proceeds to trial.

Criminal Defense Attorneys

The dedicated team at Navarrete & Schwartz will always fight for your best interests. We are proud to serve the residence of Midland, Texas. Contact us today.