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Plea bargaining refers to discussions between the prosecutor and the defense attorney about reaching a resolution that ends a case short of trial.

You’ll often hear of attorneys who push their clients to enter pleas too quickly.  You’ll also hear of attorneys who convince their client’s to enter a plea because they’re afraid of trial.  The fact of the matter is that most criminal cases are settled by a plea of guilty or no contest.  That doesn’t mean you’re required to do enter a plea in your case.  The defense attorneys at Van Severen Law Office are always prepared for the possibility of pursuing your case to a jury trial.  Plea bargaining is often viewed with distrust, however sometimes clients aren’t looking to pursue a case all the way through trial.  Settlements often include a reduction in charges and often provide a certain expectation for the kind of sentence the client is facing.  Additionally, things like stress, hardship, and additional legal fees are saved by entering a plea.

As you’re aware, there are disadvantages to settling a case.  Once a case is settled, the client waives certain rights.  The defendant’s right to trial (and the opportunity to be found not guilty) are waived by entry of a plea.  Additionally, certain appellate claims are waived by entering a no contest or guilty plea.

Do I still need an attorney if I’m just looking to enter a plea in my case?

In short, yes.  Because so many cases are settled, it’s crucial that your attorney have the ability to effectively negotiate a plea.  The effectiveness of your lawyer relies on numerous factors, but we believe the most important is the willingness to go to trial.  The government is going to take more seriously an attorney unafraid to proceed to jury trial.  On the opposite end, if your lawyer is afraid to ever go to jury trial, the government realizes that and could approach you with a higher plea offer.

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