Getting into trouble with the law in Arizona disrupts your life in more ways than one. Whether innocent or guilty however, you have the right to a defense. The criminal justice system, though flawed, offers options. Plea agreements or plea bargains can be a valuable alternative. You should never accept a plea agreement before consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Plea bargains can be great, but the prosecutor will only offer what favors them and not you.
Attorney, Raymond Kimble will negotiate a plea agreement and advise you on whether to accept it or not, depending on the deal itself and what your chances are of a dismissal or an acquittal at trial. There is a lot that goes into plea agreements, so contact us at (480) 833-8613 to schedule a Free Consultation to discuss your case.
What is a Plea Agreement?
In a plea deal, or plea bargain, the defendant agrees to plead guilty to a criminal charge in exchange for certain concessions from the prosecutor. For example, the prosecutor may seek a lesser sentence, reduce the seriousness of the charge, or withdraw some of the original charges.
By accepting a plea agreement, your case won't go to trial. A plea deal is effectively a guilty plea and an acceptance of the allegations against you. Once a plea deal has been accepted and you enter a plea, the judge will then sentence you.
It's difficult to withdraw a plea once you have accepted a plea deal. But in some situations, you may be able to enter a Diversion type agreement. In this type of plea, no conviction would be entered on your record. Instead, sentencing would be delayed and you would be required to complete a class. Once the Diversion Program obligations were fulfilled, the case would be dismissed.
Types of Plea Agreements
Plea bargains really do not come in "types," but they can be categorized according to the concessions offered. Typically, the concessions in return for a guilty plea include:
- Reduced number of charges
- Lesser sentence
- Downgraded offense
- Diversion program (mostly for first-time offenders)
A plea deal could involve other concessions as well. Much of it depends on the circumstances. A criminal defense lawyer will be able to ensure the concessions fit and favor you. This also includes consequences, like reduced jail or prison time.
Plea Deal Process in Arizona
The plea agreement process generally begins in the early part of a criminal case. The prosecutor weighs certain factors before offering a plea deal. These factors can include:
- The seriousness of the crime(s)
- The evidence (e.g., how much or little there is and the quality of it)
- Potential for recidivism -- how likely you are to re-offend
- Criminal history
- Level of cooperation (e.g., you give information on another possibly related case)
A criminal defense attorney may even approach the prosecutor about a plea deal, and this could occur at any time, whether it's after charges are filed or even after a trial has begun.
Court Approval and Plea Agreements in Arizona
A judge must approve a plea agreement. Once you have reached an agreement with the prosecution, the judge hears the details of the deal. The judge will ask you to confirm you are entering the plea voluntarily.
The judge will also confirm you understand that your plea requires you to waive several constitutional rights, which include:
- The right against self-incrimination
- The right to a jury trial
- The right to confront witnesses
- The right to counsel (if you're unrepresented)
After hearing the details of the plea and asking you these questions, a judge may accept or reject the plea deal.
What to Consider before Accepting a Plea Agreement in Arizona
You should only accept a plea deal after receiving professional legal advice.
Facing a criminal charge can be stressful. It can be tempting to accept the first plea deal the prosecution offers you to put an end to the matter. But plea bargains are a negotiation process and, with the help of our skilled criminal defense attorney in Maricopa County, you may be able to reach an agreement that's more favorable to you.
Once a judge has accepted a plea deal, it's very difficult to withdraw your guilty plea. There are limited circumstances in which you can do so, such as where you were coerced into it or where you were unrepresented and did not fully understand the consequences of your plea. Typically, you must show that there is a manifest injustice in order to withdraw a guilty plea.
Knowing the pros and cons of a plea agreement is probably the best way to consider whether you should accept or decline it. Your criminal defense attorney should be able to lay these out for you in a way you understand, what the consequences are, and what the alternatives are.
Call (480) 833-8613 for Immediate Help
Raymond Kimble specializes in DUI & Criminal Defense and has a working knowledge of all the city, justice and superior courts in Arizona. Through his experience, Mr. Kimble can assess and evaluate your particular situation and provide the best possible defense strategy. Mr. Kimble is always able to resolve DUI and Criminal cases with the least amount of jail time, fines, etc. Mr. Kimble is able to expose weaknesses in a prosecutor's case which results in a dismissal or reduction of charges and has successfully defended many cases at trial. Raymond A. Kimble is a former police officer and Prosecutor who has successfully defended thousands of people charged with DUI, Misdemeanor and Felony Crimes in Arizona over the last twenty years.