Television crime shows provide many Baton Rouge residents with entertainment each week but also, in a very limited and generalized way, provide a small glimpse into some of the areas of defense work that individuals may use to lighten or eliminate their pending criminal charges. One element of a criminal defense strategy that readers may be familiar with is plea negotiation, and this post will discuss in general some of the ways this strategy can help criminal defendants.
When facing criminal charges a person can admit guilt through a guilty plea, deny guilt through a not guilty plea or offer an alternative plea depending upon their charges. While a guilty plea may eliminate the need for a case to go to trial, a not guilty plea sets the stage for the prosecutors and defendant to hear out their sides of the story in court.
Before offering a plea or even before a trial begins a defendant, their attorneys, and prosecutors may meet to engage in plea negotiations. A defendant may be unwilling to admit guilt to a first degree felony charge but may offer a guilty plea if prosecutors drop the charges down to lesser forms of the crime that carry with them less harsh sentencing options. A defendant may also offer to plead guilty to a charge if prosecutors are able to offer a lesser sentencing option than that generally given for the applicable crime.
Finally, defendants and prosecutors may engage in fact bargaining or stipulations through which defendants admit certain facts as true in exchange for prosecutors leaving certain facts out of their cases. These forms of plea negotiation can be complex and individuals who believe that they may benefit from these and other forms of plea negotiation are encouraged to discuss their options with their criminal defense attorneys.