Things to Consider Before Accepting a Plea Bargain in FloridaPublished: Sep 10, 2019 by Erika Valcarcel
When you’re facing a trial for a criminal charge in Florida, your freedom is completely up to the jury. A conviction could lead to a maximum sentence. A plea bargain could offer you a safer alternative, but you need an attorney who is experienced in criminal law and plea bargaining and knows the local courts. Florida attorney Erika Valcarcel at Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. can help you make the right choice. Call her today at (941) 363-7900 or use the online contact form.
What is a Plea Bargain?
A plea bargain in Florida is an offer from the prosecution that allows a person charged with a crime to plead guilty to a lesser charge. Rule 3.171 of the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure allows the prosecutor and your attorney to discuss pleas and sets out the standards they should use in plea discussions and deals. When you agree to a plea bargain you:
- Waive your right to a trial
- Give up your right to appeal
- Plead guilty or no contest to a lesser charge
- Face sentencing for the charge you plead to
A plea deal may be suggested by the prosecutor or the defense attorney, but it must be agreed to by both lawyers as well as the judge in your case.
Considering a Plea Bargain
When you’re offered a plea agreement, you might not know if it’s actually a good deal. In this situation, consider:
- The severity of the original charge
- The possible sentence for the original charge
- Your chance of winning at trial
- The severity of the lesser charge
- The possible sentence of the lesser charge
A trial offers you an uncertain outcome. Your fate is in the hands of the jury. You might be acquitted (found innocent) or you might be found guilty and that could lead to a significant sentence. When you accept a plea bargain, you avoid the lengthier sentence of the original charge, but accept the certainty of a conviction of a lesser charge and the more lenient sentencing that goes with it. A plea could allow you to reduce or avoid imprisonment or might reduce the fine you have to pay.
A Plea Can Avoid a Felony Conviction
A plea deal can mean the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor on your record, which can drastically impact your life moving forward. Florida has a three strikes law, which means there are elevated penalties if you’ve been convicted of three or more felonies. Avoiding adding another felony to your record is crucial in this situation.
Making the Plea Decision
The prosecution might seem friendly and offer you a plea deal that sounds good to you, but the truth is the prosecutor is there to get a conviction, not to help you out. Only a criminal defense attorney can give you all the information you need about the plea deal that’s on the table and offer good advice about what makes sense in your case. You need straight talk about whether you’re better to go to trial or accept the plea. The more experienced your attorney, the better. Deciding whether or not to take a plea is a decision that’s going to impact the rest of your life, so you want to make an informed decision.
When considering a plea bargain in Florida, it’s essential that you work with an attorney experienced in criminal law and plea bargaining in your local courts. A skilled attorney can help you clearly understand your chances at trial and whether the plea bargain offered is a good deal for you. Attorney Erika Valcarcel is ready to use her experience to help you make the best possible choice about a plea bargain. Call her now at (941) 363-7900 or use the online contact form.