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Does it Make Sense for Me to Reach a Plea Deal in a Criminal Case?

Okabe & Haushalter Aug 9, 2018 Criminal Defense

When you are facing a criminal charge in San Francisco your life changes immediately. It’s possible you won’t be released on bail, your face could be plastered all over the local news, and you might not know when you will get to enjoy freedom again. Depending on the severity of the crime you supposedly committed it might be in your best interest to negotiate a plea deal in the criminal case. Our San Francisco criminal defense attorney would like to explore plea negotiations in this post.

Two Types of Negotiation

There are two types of negotiation we can discuss and they are charge bargaining and sentence bargaining. Based on the name of these you can see that they occur at different points in the criminal justice process in California. Charge bargaining occurs when your attorney negotiates a deal for a lighter charge before going to trial. Sentence bargaining occurs when your attorney attempts to negotiate a more lenient sentence if you plead guilty or no contest to the charges against you or to lesser charges.

California’s Stance on Plea Negotiations

California has a different stance on plea negotiations than other states in the country. When Proposition 8 was passed in 1982 it changed how plea negotiations can be handled. If the defendant is charged with a serious felony during the indictment or information stages, including one that involved the use of a gun, any offense involving driving while under the influence, or a violent sex crime, plea bargaining is not permitted.

There are three exceptions to the Proposition 8 law. Those three exceptions do allow for plea bargaining when any of the following are present in the case: the testimony from a material witness is not obtainable, there is not enough evidence to prove the case for the people, and the dismissal or reduction in the case would not cause a big change in sentencing.

When Plea Negotiations Occur

Outside of the indictment or information stages of criminal case plea negotiations are still permitted in California. This means that your defense attorney can negotiate a deal on your behalf prior to being indicted, after arraignment, prior to a preliminary hearing and even during a grand jury investigation. In some instances, a plea bargain could be struck after conviction while the case is being appealed. This deal would only involve the sentencing portion of the case and nothing else.

Option to Plead No Contest

You do have the option to plead no contest when facing a criminal charge in California. This is very much like a guilty plea. The only difference is that should the plaintiff wish to file a lawsuit against you this no contest plea cannot be used as evidence in that civil case. A plea of no contest will still appear on any background check performed of your record.

Are you facing a criminal charge in San Francisco? It’s in your best interest to meet with an experienced criminal defense attorney in San Francisco to discuss the charge and your options of negotiating a plea deal with the prosecutor. Contact the office of Okabe & Haushalter today to schedule an appointment.