Plea Bargaining in Los Angeles, CA
Is Plea Bargaining An Option for My Case?
Plea bargaining is the process whereby the defendant (the accused) and
the prosecutor work out a mutually satisfactory resolution of the criminal
case without going to trial. What generally occurs in plea bargaining
is that the defendant, with the assistance of his or her defense lawyer,
pleads guilty or no contest to a lesser charge or to one or some of the
criminal charges in exchange for a reduced sentence.
Need guidance with this process?
Contact our Los Angeles criminal defense attorney at once!
Accepting a Plea Bargain vs. Going to Trial
Most people charged with committing a crime must decide whether to go to
trial or to accept a plea bargain. Plea bargains are available to the
innocent and guilty, alike. The reason a prosecutor may engage in a plea
bargain even when the prosecutor believes the defendant is guilty is that
they cannot go to trial on every case. There are not enough courts or
prosecutors to try every case and some prosecutors have enormous caseloads.
Some cases are just weak and witnesses are unavailable or reluctant to
testify, and a prosecutor may feel it is better to get a conviction and
some punishment than none at all. Likewise, even a totally innocent defendant,
may want to plea bargain because you never know what will happen in a
trial. If you get a good jury, you may win. Get a bad jury and an inexperienced
trial lawyer and you may lose even if you are innocent. A plea bargain
lets you know in advance what you are pleading to and the exact punishment.
Plea Bargains in Los Angeles County
In Los Angeles County, prosecutors are under significant pressure to negotiate
- In California, a criminal trial costs approximately $10,000 per day to prosecute
- Prosecutors have heavy caseloads
- The county jails are crowded
- The criminal court calendars are full
A plea offer is made in almost every case, but the decision about whether
to accept a plea bargain belongs to the defendant alone.
It is extremely important to hire a criminal defense lawyer who understands
the details and consequences of a plea offer, who will aggressively negotiate
when his client can get a better deal, who is willing to take a case to
trial, and who has the experience to win. A plea bargain is a victory
in some cases, especially when an attorney successfully negotiates a reduced
sentence or completely avoids county jail or state prison.
How Plea Bargaining Works
Plea bargaining can happen at almost any point of a criminal prosecution
– from the initial court appearance (arraignment) to the steps of the courthouse on the first day of trial. In most plea
bargains, the person charged pleads guilty or no contest (sometimes to
a lesser charge) for a less serious sentence and/or for a dismissal of
For example, if the defendant has been charged with felony domestic violence
or a misdemeanor DUI offense in Los Angeles, the following plea bargains
could be struck by the prosecutor and the defendant's defense attorney:
- Guilty plea for misdemeanor domestic violence instead of a felony
- Guilty plea for a simple DUI instead of a DUI with injury
- Guilty plea for reckless driving instead of a standard DUI/DWI
The prosecutor may even agree to reduce the
DUI charge to a traffic infraction in some cases. Plea bargains can be complex and
depend heavily on the strength of the prosecution's case. The prosecutor's
offer will also probably get better as the trial date gets closer. Usually,
it is not in the defendant's best interest to accept the first plea offer.
Before agreeing to any plea agreement, a defendant should understand:
- If they will receive a lesser penalty than what could be expected from trial
- What the sentence is and when they will be eligible for probation or parole
- Whether pleading guilty will have collateral consequences
- If the plea bargain is for probation, whether the defendant could realistically
comply with all of the conditions of probation
Hire the Right Criminal Defense Attorney
It is important to hire a criminal defense lawyer who has trial and negotiation
experience. An effective and experienced criminal defense attorney in
Los Angeles can properly evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the
prosecutor's case and the potential penalties the defendant would
be subjected to if the case went to trial and lost. We are
Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners, and we have represented defendants facing criminal charges ranging from
shoplifting to murder for 70 years combined.
We are experienced trial attorneys who are not afraid to take a case to
trial – we never negotiate a plea agreement for our own convenience,
and will do what it takes to get the best outcome. When we represent a
client, we strive to provide accurate information, to communicate options,
and to completely answer questions. We want our clients to feel informed,
and to be secure with the decisions they make. Past clients constantly
reaffirm our proven track record of having criminal charges dismissed
For a free and confidential consultation with a Los Angeles criminal defense
lawyer to discuss your case, please
call our office today.