Understanding Plea Bargain And Whether It Is The Best Decision
Whenever a defendant enters into a negotiated plea, the judge makes sure that he is aware of the rights that he will be giving up. In the federal court, the defendant who wants to plead guilty must testify under oath to the facts that established his guilt. It is common for a judge to ask the defendant a long list of questions to determine whether he understands the plea.
For the most part, defendants usually follow their lawyer’s instructions. To avoid disrupting the plea-bargain, the defendant answers “yes” to all the questions. The judge will accept the plea once he is satisfied with the defendant’s answers. However, there are also instances when the judge consults with the crime victim or the probation officer to prepare the pre-sentence report. The judge also needs to listen to the prosecutor’s arguments including that of the defence before making the sentencing decision.
For a knowing and intelligent plea of guilt, the defendant has to:
- Admit that his conduct is punishable by law,
- Admit and understand the charges made against him,
- Understand the consequences of the plea and
- Understand the rights he is waiving by pleading guilty.
Knowing the consequences of the plea means that the defendant understands the sentence as it stands and the possible sentence if the case goes through trial. The rights that are being waived when the defendant pleads guilty include the right to counsel if unrepresented, the right to a trial by jury, the right not to incriminate himself and the right to confront and cross-examine the accusers.
In some courts, the defendant may be required to fill up and sign some forms indicating that he is waiving his rights. If the defendant is not an American citizen, he must be aware that he is facing the risks of deportation once convicted of the crime.
It is very important for a defendant to have legal representation through Donich Law during plea bargaining. An experienced criminal defence lawyer will complete a reasonable plea bargain for his client in order to decrease possible sentencing. The lawyer can negotiate the best possible plea bargain to protect his client.