Ideally, your criminal case will end in a dismissal or a victory at trial. If the Commonwealth lacks credible or inculpatory evidence, or if the evidence against you was obtained unlawfully, it is extremely likely that you will be able to beat the charges and walk away without any conviction at all so long as you have a highly skilled and experienced Fairfax criminal defense lawyer by your side who understands the ins and outs of the plea bargaining and negotiation process. At the Law Offices of Randall Sousa, we pride ourselves on our negotiation skills and experience and have achieved extremely favorable outcomes for clients – even the clients who have faces dire situations.
To be sure, almost all criminal cases end in a plea bargain and do not go to trial. The reason why criminal cases rarely go to trial is due to many different factors, but the most salient factors are (1) the uncertainty and risk of going to trial; (2) the economic costs of going to trial (going to trial is extremely expensive); (3) the emotional, physical, and mental tolls associated with going through a criminal jury trial; and (4) being able to end the case and move on with your life. This last factor usually proves to be the strongest, because when you have a good criminal defense attorney by your side, they will be able to reach a highly favorable deal with prosecutors. But, at the end of the day, people don’t want to risk going to trial and being convicted because, upon being convicted, the sentence you receive will be entirely in the judge’s hands.
When No Plea Bargain Can Be Reached
If negotiations break down and the prosecution is being unreasonable, trial may ultimately be the best bet, but it is extremely important that you discuss your case with a qualified attorney to determine what your interests are and how to best protect those interests. Continuing plea negotiations, even when it is with an unreasonable prosecutor, can still lead to a favorable outcome. In reality, prosecutors just don’t have enough hours in the day to take all of their cases to trial and, most times, they will give in to a reasonable and proper request for a plea bargain. In order for the plea bargain to be completed, the defendant must waive important constitutional rights – their right to a jury trial and the right to be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
In my experience, most plea negotiations turn out favorable. Below are some examples of how the Law Offices of Randall Sousa can help you avoid a severe sentence or jail time.
Pleading to Lesser Charges
The most common reasons people plead guilty is to avoid being found guilty of a more serious crime. Sometimes, the charges that are filed in a criminal case carry very serious consequences. There are a multitude of reasons why a person would accept a plea bargain. For example, if you are charged with a felony, a conviction could be accompanied by a lifetime of negative consequences. But if you are able to plead down to a misdemeanor, you will definitely avoid many of the difficult, negative consequences which accompany a felony conviction – including prison or jail time. Even when it comes to misdemeanors, such as a DUI conviction, such convictions will lead to a court-imposed driver’s license suspension. However, plea bargaining down to a reckless driving charge may ultimately be worth giving up your constitutional right to a trial as a way of avoiding having your driver’s license suspended.
Plea Bargaining to Avoid Jail Time
Most misdemeanor offenses carry up to 6 months or a year in county jail and felonies can carry even longer terms in prison. If you are convicted at trial, there will be a sentencing hearing, and the judge will hear argument from both sides, consider the evidence presented at trial, hear from victims concerning the impact the crime had on their life, and then consider all of these factors before imposing a sentence. To be sure, this sentence may not be any worse than what was offered by the prosecution at trial, but it can be. That is why, many times, prosecutors may induce defendants to plead guilty or no contest by offering them NO JAIL TIME AT ALL in order to avoid the all the work involved in having to prove a defendant guilty at trial. In lieu of jail time, prosecutors generally offer community service or simply 3 nights in jail where you will go to work during the day and then report to jail at night, spend the evening there, and then go to work the next morning.
Plea Bargaining for Cases Involving Immigration Consequences
Immigration laws are complex and ever-changing, but certain aggravated felonies, crimes involving moral turpitude, crimes of violence, drug crimes, and domestic violence offenses can all have disastrous consequences for non-citizens.
Plea Bargaining in Cases Where the Evidence Against You is Overwhelming
Sometimes, there is simply no chance to win at trial. It is in these cases when having skilled, passionate, and aggressive representation is most important. Your attorney can work with the prosecutor and judge to reach a deal with as few punitive consequences as possible and these consequences will be much less severe than if you took the case to trial and lost. Also, simply because the Commonwealth has a strong case does not mean that you should take the first deal prosecutors offer. When you have a strong Fairfax criminal defense attorney on your side, they will almost certainly compel prosecutors to sweeten their initial offer. Also, just because the evidence against you is strong, there may be evidentiary issues which can be suppressed and the existence of procedural issues (even if the facts are against you), may very well force the prosecution to make a better deal.
Plea Bargaining to Avoid Trial Publicity
Trials generate media attention. Pleading no contest to avoid publicity may be the best way to go. But you should always discuss your circumstances with a qualified criminal defense attorney who is able to assess whether this strategy will ultimately address the concerns you have regarding publicity. Depending on the situation, you may be able to move to have the entire matter kept under seal until the time of trial. The Law Offices of Randall Sousa has the knowledge, experience, and record of success necessary to obtain these types of gag and/or seal orders.
Plea Bargaining in Exchange for Testifying Against Another Person
While it is most common in the federal court system, it may be possible to plea bargain down to a lesser charge by agreeing to give information to law enforcement or testifying against another person in the same case or a different case. No one likes being a snitch, and making this decision will almost always prove difficult, that is why you should never agree to taking this step until you have discussed this option with your attorney.
Contact a Fairfax Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
Securing a favorable plea deal is difficult. Sometimes, reaching an agreement early in the process is achievable and involving a detective or investigating officer in the negotiations may prove beneficial. Other times, the best plea bargains are reached by pushing the case to trial. At the Law Offices of Randall Sousa, we always project confidence in and outside of the courtroom. Our confidence is an outgrowth of our understanding of the criminal justice system and our ability to use the mechanisms of criminal procedure to present favorable arguments and mitigating factors.
If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges, it is important to have a passionate, aggressive Fairfax Criminal Defense Lawyer on your side to fight for you. Whether through motions to dismiss, motions to suppress evidence, taking your case to trial, or engaging in plea bargaining, you need a lawyer who understands the process inside and out and who knows how to work with law enforcement, the prosecution, and the court to help you achieve the best possible outcome in your case. (571) 354-6164
By: Randall Sousa