If you have filed a criminal case for your personal injury lawsuit, and have completed the first hearing (arraignment); you may wonder what will happen next.
Plea bargain will be the next stage for your case.
In plea bargain, the defendant is given the choice to plead guilty to one of the charges in exchange for a lesser penalty. If the defendant pleads guilty, the case will move on faster.
What to expect in a plea bargain
If you are the complainant, your lawyer may negotiate with the defendant to admit one or more charges in exchange for a lighter sentence or dismissal of related charges.
Plea bargain is based on the following factors:
1. Seriousness of the criminal offense
2. Sufficiency of evidence
3. Foreseeability of a guilty verdict
Nowadays, the court encourages plea bargains, to lessen the bulk of pending criminal cases and overcrowded detention cells.
Personal Injuiry Lawyer
Examples on how plea bargains are negotiated:
1. A driver of SUV committed reckless driving criminal offense. The lawyer of the seriously injured pedestrian offers the driver to enter into a plea bargain. The lawyer allows him to admit one or more offenses in exchange for a dismissal of related charges.
2. The lawyer of the plaintiff has strong evidence against the defendant, that a guilty verdict is foreseeable. The lawyer of the plaintiff offers the defendant and his/her own attorney to enter into plea bargain to lessen anticipated penalty.
3. The defendant agrees to negotiate with the plaintiff’s lawyer and admits a less serious offense in exchange for dismissal of a second offense.
How the court assesses the plea bargaining
If the defendant agrees to enter into a plea bargain, and admits an offense; the court does not easily accepts such agreement. The court has to review if the elements of plea bargain are adequately met. There should be strong evidence for the elements to convince the court.
Three elements in plea bargain:
1. The defendant is informed on his/her rights and the option to waive such right
2. The defendant waives his/her right voluntarily
3. The plaintiff has substantial and adequate evidence to prove the criminal offense of the defendant
The court also reviews how the plaintiff’s lawyer has justly asserted the three areas of negotiation such as: sentence, charge, and fact bargaining.
The plaintiff’s attorney has to persuade the court that such plea arrangement complies with the technical requirements.
After plea bargain stage, the preliminary hearing will follow.
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