Many people who are charged with crimes want to fight to clear their names and prove they are not guilty. In some cases, though, it may be prudent for a person charged with a crime to consider accepting an offer of a reduced sentence in exchange for an admission of guilt. While accepting a plea deal is often the best option, it is important for people contemplating entering into such agreements to understand the implications of their decision as well as their rights. If you are charged with a crime, it is advisable to speak to a St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to evaluate your options.
What is a Plea Deal in Florida?
A plea deal is essentially an agreement in which a criminal defendant agrees to enter a certain plea for which the prosecutor agrees to provide a benefit, which may be reduced charges or a lesser penalty. In other words, pursuant to Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.171, prosecutors may negotiate with either criminal defendants, if they are not represented by counsel, or their attorneys if they are, to come to an agreement that, if the defendant pleads guilty or no contest to a certain charge or lesser offense, the prosecution will either abandon any other charges, agree to suggest or decline to oppose the defendant’s request for a specific sentence, agree to a certain sentence, or speak to the victim and other interested parties and inform the judge of their views.
Prosecutors have broad discretion over whether to offer defendants plea agreements and are not obligated to do so. Prosecutors do have an obligation to let the judge know the material facts of the case, including the defendant’s background, before the judge is also required to let the trial judge know about all material facts related to both the crime and the defendant’s background before the judge can accept a plea, however.
Things to Contemplate Before Accepting a Plea Deal
Notably, regardless of what agreement the prosecution and defendant come to, it is up to the judge presiding over the matter as to whether to accept the plea or the terms of the agreement. In other words, the judge may reject the plea. Additionally, it is important for defendants to understand that a plea agreement often requires them to enter a guilty plea, which means they are conceding that they committed the offenses for which they are charged and will have a criminal record as a result.
Meet with an Experienced St. Petersburg Criminal Defense Attorney
While some people choose to offer vigorous defenses to criminal charges, others opt to avoid the rigors and risks associated with trials and enter into plea deals. If you are charged with a crime, you should meet with an attorney to discuss your rights. William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is an experienced St. Petersburg criminal defense attorney adept at negotiating plea deals, and if you are accused of committing a crime, he can develop a strategy designed to help you seek the best outcome available in your case. You can contact Mr. Hanlon at 727-897-5413 or via the form online to schedule a meeting.