How do Plea Bargains Work in Arizona?
A Brief Overview of Plea Bargains in Arizona
Plea bargains, also known as plea agreements, are a tool used by prosecutors to obtain convictions voluntarily in exchange for lighter charges and or sentences for the defendant. They are incredibly popular, estimates of the percentage of criminal cases that result in a plea bargain are consistently at 90% or above—largely due to the amount of prison exposure people are facing if they lose at trial. As with anything, these agreements can be negotiated, and no two plea bargains will be exactly similar because every single case is different. It is of the utmost importance therefore to get a criminal defense lawyer who is experienced and able to negotiate the best deal. You want a criminal defense lawyer who does not just quickly recommend a plea offer to client—but who will actually work up and review every possible issue in a case in order to negotiate the best possible offer.
Why do Prosecutors use Plea Bargains?
Plea bargains serve multiple purposes for prosecutors. First and foremost, prosecutors have a large amount of cases at any time, meaning they can only devote so much attention to each individual case. Plea bargains allow for a relatively easy way to obtain a conviction while saving plenty of time from not having to prepare for and perform a full trial for each defendant. A good comparison for plea bargains would be settlements for civil lawsuits. Settlements and plea bargains are both done in large part due to financial constraints of the parties involved.
Another consideration is conviction rates. Prosecutors are often judged by their conviction rate, especially if the individual has interest in pursuing political office. Rather than letting cases go to trial, which always carries an amount of uncertainty, obtaining a plea bargain allows their conviction rate to remain steady.
How do Plea Bargains Benefit Defendants?
By signing a plea agreement, a defendant admits to whatever crime is enumerated in the agreement. They also save the prosecutor a considerable amount of time and effort in pursuit of a conviction. So how do plea bargains benefit defendants?
There are two primary benefits. One is that a plea bargain carries with it the understanding that the defendant is avoiding harsher punishment by signing the plea. For example, an individual may be charged with possession of narcotics with intent to distribute, but through a plea bargain, may have this charge reduced to simple possession of drugs—which carries with it much les prison time. Plea bargains can thus save defendants from years of prison time if they are correctly negotiated and drafted. It goes without saying that a defendant usually will avoid signing a plea bargain if they truly are innocent of the crime they are being charged with.
Another reason for defendants to sign plea bargains is to avoid the publicity and exposure a trial would bring—and the gamble one takes by proceeding to trial. Whether to save face or to not have to confront the stress and possible consequences losing a trial, defendants may consider plea agreements an easy way out with a known outcome. If the deal they are being cut is not obviously unfair, based on he prison time they are looking at after a trial loss, this consideration may influence a defendant to sign a plea agreement.
Obtaining a Favorable Agreement
To obtain a favorable plea agreement you need an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your attorney will walk you through the strengths and weaknesses of your case, and ensure the terms and conditions being offered to you are both fair and legally valid. You need a criminal defense lawyer who will actually look through every piece of evidence in the case to find the strengths and weaknesses. The quality of your Arizona criminal defense attorney could mean the difference between significant prison time and a far lighter sentence.
Get Your Arizona Criminal Defense Attorney to Fight Your Charges
Litwak Law Group’s criminal defense attorneys pride themselves on fighting aggressively and professionally for the constitutional rights and freedoms of their clients. Should you be charged with a crime in Arizona, contact Litwak Law Group today.