Plea Bargaining in North Carolina

At Sandman, Finn & Fitzhugh, we work to obtain a “not guilty” verdict or get the case dismissed. However, in some situations, the nature of the evidence makes such results impossible to achieve. But, that doesn’t mean a positive result is out of reach.

If you face criminal charges in Wake County, even if they are severe and you have a criminal record, prosecutors typically offer plea bargains. In fact, such pretrial settlements resolve about 95 percent of the criminal cases in North Carolina.

Generally, in exchange for a voluntary plea of guilty or no contest, the defendant receives a more lenient sentence and/or the prosecutor reduces the charges. These arrangements save time for both the prosecutor and a Raleigh criminal defense attorneys. In many cases, trials take at least several months to move through the criminal justice process. A plea bargain offer may be appropriate based on things like:

  • Severity of the offense
  • Amount of evidence against the defendant
  • Any defenses that your Raleigh criminal defense attorney can present.

Legally, a “guilty” and “no contest” pleas have the same effect. However, no contest means that the defendant does not admit or deny the allegations.

Typically, all defendants initially plead not guilty at arraignment. But based on the aforementioned items, many Raleigh criminal defense lawyers advise their clients to change their pleas. In most cases, such changes produce a number of benefits, including:

  • More Lenient Sentence – As mentioned, most plea bargains include a lesser sentence, like probation instead of jail time, or a reduced charge, like a misdemeanor instead of a felony.
  • Save Money – Trials usually mean higher attorneys’ fees. Additionally, trials may also involve hiring expert witnesses and other such costs. Sometimes the extra investment is worthwhile, and sometimes it is not.
  • Save Time – As mentioned, many people must wait months for their trial dates. That’s an agonizingly long time in many cases. Plea agreements may end cases in a matter of weeks.
  • Control over the Outcome – Instead of risking your future with a jury or the judge, a plea agreement gives you the power to resolve your own case and the ability to face a more certain future.

A Raleigh criminal defense lawyer must always review your situation, and not just the allegations against you, before you make any decisions in this area. Typically, a plea agreement means waiving your right to a trial, your right to avoid self-incrimination, and some other rights.

The Raleigh criminal defense attorneys at Sandman, Finn & Fitzhugh, Attorneys at Law, can evaluate your case, determine whether or not a plea deal is the best course of action for your case, and negotiate the most favorable outcome possible. To schedule a free consultation, fill out the form to the right or call us at (919) 887-8040.