Plea Bargaining in North Carolina
At Sandman, Finn & Fitzhugh, our main goal is to help our clients obtain a “not guilty” verdict or get their entire case dismissed. However, there are some cases where the evidence can make such situations impossible to achieve—but that doesn’t mean you can’t have some of the charges against you dropped or your penalties reduced.
If you have been charged with a crime, it is possible for a prosecutor to offer you a plea bargain. In fact, nearly all criminal cases are resolved by plea bargaining in the United States.
In a plea bargain, the defendant pleads “guilty” or “no contest” before standing trial in exchange for a more lenient sentence given by the prosecution. Since trials often take weeks or even months to move through the criminal justice system, which is also overburdened with a massive backlog of cases, plea deals can save the courts and prosecution money and time.
The decision to enter into a plea agreement is based on the following circumstances:
- The severity of the criminal offense
- The amount of supporting evidence in the case
- The likeliness of obtaining a guilty verdict
Keep in mind, negotiating a plea bargain often begins with a not guilty plea at an arraignment. As the case progresses, the defendant’s attorney may bring up weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case that could lower the chances of obtaining a guilty verdict in trial, which can improve the defendant’s chances of obtaining a favorable deal.
Here are the benefits of a plea bargain:
- You can obtain a more lenient sentence – Whether the prosecutor recommends probation rather than jail/prison time or replaces felony charges with misdemeanors, a lighter sentence means you do not have to serve the full penalties of the initial charges you face.
- You can save money – Taking your case to trial can result in increased attorney fees and court fees. Additionally, you may need to spend money on expert testimony, crime scene reconstruction, and other costs to prove your defense.
- You can save time – It can takes months for your trial to be heard, which means months of agony leading up to your courtroom appearance. Reaching a plea agreement can end your case before reaching trial.
- You have control over your fate – Rather than leave your future up to the hands of a jury or the judge, a plea agreement allows you to resolve your case by your own terms, depending on the circumstances of your case.
Remember, if you believe you are innocent, you should not plead guilty and avoid accepting a plea deal from the prosecutor. Furthermore, accepting a plea agreement means you give up your right to a trial and any protections you have against self-incrimination.
Our Raleigh criminal defense attorneys can evaluate your case, determine whether or not a plea deal is the best course of action for your case, and negotiate with the prosecution the most favorable agreement possible.
For more information, contact us and schedule a free consultation today.