With so many television and movie crime shows, it comes as a surprise to many Americans to learn that about 95 percent of all criminal cases result in a plea bargain. If every case ended up in front of a jury, our criminal justice system would be bogged down for decades. The plea bargain system works because it lets the government save substantial money from the cost of a jury trial. One of the biggest misconceptions is that a plea agreement is somehow going to gain an advantage at sentencing. In most, but not all, cases this is simply not true. An “open plea” or “straight up plea” to the court more often than not results in the same benefits.
A Plea Agreement Is Still A Criminal Conviction. Don’t Sign Away Your Future.
Remember, agreeing to a plea agreement will still result in a conviction on your record, in most cases. If you have been arrested and charged with a state or federal criminal offense in South Florida or Central Florida and think agreeing to a plea arrangement is your best option, call a criminal law attorney at O’Brien Hatfield Reese, PA, first. We have offices in Tampa and Orlando, and will arrange a free consultation to explain your rights. We do NOT advise you to sign away your rights without knowing how it will affect your future.
Do You Need A Lawyer If You Want To Agree To A Plea Agreement?
The most common way to enter a plea of guilty is to sign a government-sponsored plea agreement. Make sure you have an attorney explaining your other options. If your public defender or current lawyer is pressuring you to plead guilty to a reduced charge, be sure to ask your lawyer what benefits, if any, you are receiving by agreeing to the government plea agreement. Often, there is little incentive to do so.
You Are Waiving Your Right To Appeal
Typically in every government-sponsored plea agreement there is appeal waiver language. By signing the plea agreement, you are waiving your right to appeal your sentence in all but the most limited and unlikely circumstances. It may even affect your ability to file collateral post-conviction motions, commonly referred to as 2255 motions, which allege your trial counsel was ineffective. At the end of the day, a defendant must be very careful to not waive valuable appellate rights unless he or she is getting something in return. In everyday terms, think of it this way: Would you ever go to a store at the mall, give $20 to the cashier and not expect something in return? That is what most defendants do each and every time they sign a government plea agreement.
Call Us Before You Agree To Anything In Words Or In Writing
As with most things in life there are exceptions to the rule, and those plea agreements negotiated by a skilled criminal defense lawyer can sometimes have a beneficial effect. However, this usually only happens when a defendant has leverage and knows it. The government is not in the business of giving away things for free and neither should you. The key here is communication between a lawyer and a client. Know what you are signing and why you are signing it before you sign it.
Call us at 813-345-4909 or use our contact form to arrange a free case evaluation and consultation about your rights. We will explain how having an attorney from O’Brien Hatfield Reese, PA, on your side can make a difference to your future.