Plea bargains, or plea agreements, are a kind of compromise that a defendant makes with a prosecutor. Basically, in exchange for entering a certain plea in a criminal case, the state agrees to change or reduce other charges, or even to lower a person’s sentence. While plea bargains can place defendants in a better position to face lesser charges or sanctions, they aren’t right for everyone, so if you have been accused of a crime in Texas and have been offered a plea bargain by the prosecutor, it is important to speak with an experienced Houston criminal defense lawyer before moving forward.
Issuing a Plea
Those who are accused of crimes in Texas must respond to those allegations by issuing a plea in court. There are a few different options when it comes to issuing a plea, as a person can plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest. While guilty and not guilty pleas are pretty self explanatory, pleading no contest is a bit more complicated. No contest pleas mean that a person is not admitting guilt, although this kind of plea is different than a standard not guilty plea, as the defendant is agreeing not to contest the case like he or she would if pleading not guilty. Unlike guilty pleas, no contest pleas can not be used against a defendant in another case.
What is a Plea Bargain?
Plea bargains are deals that are negotiated between the prosecutor and a defendant’s attorney and then brought to the judge for approval. Plea deals are essentially a contract between defendants and prosecutors, in which the former agrees to not fight a charge in exchange for certain benefits, like reduced charges or a more lenient sentence. In some cases, defendants are able to avoid a conviction on their criminal records entirely by agreeing to pay restitution, attend counseling, and perform community service.
The Pros and Cons of Plea Bargains
Plea deals have a number of benefits. For instance, these kinds of agreements give defendants and their attorneys a certain degree of control over the outcome of their cases. They also help cases go through the legal system more quickly and often provide defendants with a better resolution than they would get if convicted at trial. If negotiated fairly, plea bargains can be beneficial to all parties involved.
Unfortunately, plea bargains can be coercive. Prosecutors can, for instance, pressure defendants into taking bad deals through the use of punitive measures, such as pretrial detention and mandatory minimum sentences and enhancements. These kinds of tactics are, however, much less likely to affect a defendant’s chances if he or she is represented by a skilled lawyer who can ensure that the prosecutor doesn’t resort to underhanded methods of persuasion.
Have You Been Offered a Plea Deal?
If you were recently accused of a crime and were offered a plea bargain, please call (281) 280-0100 to set up a consultation with one of the experienced Houston criminal defense lawyers at The Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates today.