Almost all criminal cases go through plea bargaining. This is because the process is beneficial both to criminal suspects as well as the Crown. Here are a few tips to have in mind if you have been accused of a crime and are involved in plea bargaining.
Consider the Collateral Consequences
During plea bargaining, one of the options on the table may be to charge you with a different crime from the original one. If this happens, you shouldn't just consider the potential sentences that the charges carry, but also their collateral consequences. These are consequences that are not intended by the court, but will nonetheless affect your life.
For example, if you are convicted of a sex crime, then you will be registered as an offender, and may be barred from traveling to some places. Therefore, if you have the option of avoiding a sexual harassment charge for an assault charge, then the assault charge may be better even if they both have the same probation periods.
Find Out What the "Standard Deal" Entails
In many places, prosecutors implicitly understand the "worth" (in terms of sentencing) of every case. They know this because they have dealt with similar cases in the past and also understand what the judge may decide if the case proceeds to trial. The prosecutors just have to plug in different variables such as your criminal record, age, and the available evidence to come up with your case's worth, which is known as the "standard deal."
It is in your best interest to know what this standard deal is so that you don't get short-changed. This is one of the advantages of hiring a lawyer because this is something you aren't likely to know on your own. Your attorney, especially if he or she is a local one, will find out the standard deal for your case.
Understand the Strength of the Prosecutor's Case
Lastly, you will also do yourself a great service by understanding the strength of the case from the prosecutor's point of view. Again, this is something that you can only gauge properly with the help of your attorney. Is there strong evidence against you? Are there eye witnesses who can place you on the scene of the crime? Was the evidence collected in a legal way? You need answers to these questions because the weaker the case against you is, the better your bargaining power.
As you can see, a common thread through all these points is that you need a lawyer's help. In fact, you should never plead guilty to anything before consulting a lawyer. If you have to take a plea without legal counsel, let it be a not guilty plea until you can consult a criminal defence attorney like Hardy & Associates Criminal Law Firm.Share
18 May 2015
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