The Vastness of the Law

Should You Try To Negotiate Or Plead A Case To A Lesser Charge?

When people think about hiring a criminal law attorney, they often initially focus on the idea of beating the charges entirely. That is worth considering, especially in the early stage of a case when there may be options like trying to exclude evidence or get the judge to dismiss the case.

However, there may come a time when a lawyer and client need to look at negotiating a lesser set of charges. When is it appropriate to examine this possibility, though? These three situations may prompt an attorney services firm to recommend a negotiated outcome.

Jail Time vs. Fines

One of the simplest reasons to consider a plea agreement is if the difference between the punishments is jail time versus fines. In both cases, you'll probably be subject to court supervision, but most folks will want to avoid the risk of jail unless they're supremely confident they can beat the charges. Sometimes it's just easier to pay the government its fines and supervision fees so you can walk away free.

Bear in mind that the state may have some additional conditions. For example, they might ask that a defendant attend anger management classes or drug and alcohol counseling. The court might also impose a suspended sentence, meaning the jail time could come back into the picture if the defendant commits a crime or otherwise violates the agreement.

Felony vs. Misdemeanor

Another common argument for a plea deal is to avoid a felony conviction. If the prosecution is open to reducing a felony charge to a misdemeanor, it will likely mean less jail time. Also, the defendant won't have to answer that they've been convicted of a felony when they apply for work.

In some professions, felony convictions can mean the end of a career, too. For example, an accountant convicted of a felony offense, especially one like fraud, may be in breach of the public trust. This can lead to them losing the right to ever work in accounting.

Avoiding Lists

Many criminal convictions include automatic registration on some type of list. Individuals convicted of sex crimes in many states frequently must register as sex offenders. This can adversely affect their employment and housing prospects. In some cases, they may not be allowed near children or the elderly.

Similar lists exist for numerous offenses. The court may order someone onto a no-fly list or prevent them from owning a firearm based on a particular type of conviction. A criminal law attorney may encourage a client to enter a guilty plea to charges that allow them to maintain these rights. For more information, contact a criminal law attorney near you.