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Plea agreements must benefit my client

Posted by Craig Penrod | Dec 26, 2013 | 0 Comments

The criminal justice system process prior to and during a trial may be discussions of a plea agreement, which almost always results in a mutually acceptable sentence that is recommended to a judge by the prosecution and the defense. This process will cancel the need for a trial or end a trial if one has already started.

In Tempe, Phoenix or other communities in Maricopa County, it is important that you consult experienced Arizona lawyers like those associated with the Law Offices of Craig W. Penrod, P.C. While I will never recommend that a client enter into a plea agreement unless the deal will benefit the client.

Plea agreements can provide benefits to both the prosecution and defense, especially if the prosecution does not have adequate evidence to secure a conviction at a trial or if the defense knows they do not have any way securing a not guilty verdict for their client. Plea agreements can result in a defendant being sentenced to a shorter period of time in prison than if they were found guilty of the original charges they faced. Many people are impacted positively by the application of a plea agreement. Some of the benefits are as follows:

  • A defendant:
    • can get less time in prison;
    • can get multiple charges dropped; and
    • avoiding trial can save on attorney fees.
  • A victim:
    • can give a victim the closure he or she needs to go on with life; and
    • can give them the justice they seek.
  • The prosecution:
    • saves court time;
    • lets them accept a deal with a defendant who admits guilt and accepts responsibility; and
    • helps a prosecutor maintain an acceptable conviction rate.

Maricopa County Superior Court has one of the lowest trial rates in the state of Arizona. One of the biggest benefits of plea agreements is the saving of money and court time. Plea agreements allow the criminal justice system to avoid collapsing under the strain that would occur if every case had to go to trial.

Plea agreements are not popular with either victims or defendants. Defendants have been known to argue that they were forced to enter into a plea agreement because a prosecutor alleged more serious charges in order to scare defendants into accepting a plea agreement for a lesser charge and a lesser penalty. Plea agreements are not always popular with the public as they see a criminal getting a break which results in insignificant punishment.

When the laws on plea bargaining were first drafted into the books, only the worse offenders were the intended targets, but now the laws are used on some of most basic crimes and on first-time offenders. Some defendants who are innocent of the charges they face, but they will plead guilty to lesser charges because they cannot afford cost of going to trial.

A prosecutor has knowledge of the law and the experience necessary to determine if their case has sufficient evidence to result in a conviction. Sometimes, prosecutors enter into a plea agreement in order to obtain a positive result, even if that positive result includes less time in prison than a defendant deserves.

Some people believe that when a defendant receives a lesser penalty under the terms of a plea agreement, that true justice has not been served and that justice was denied to the victim or victims.

Arizona's laws state:

  • The prosecuting attorney advises the court that before requesting the negotiated plea, reasonable efforts must be made to confer with the victim.
  • Reasonable efforts are made to give the victim notice of the plea proceeding . . . and to inform the victim that the victim has the right to be present and, if present, to be heard.
  • The prosecuting attorney advises the court that to the best of the prosecutor's knowledge, notice requirements . . . have been complied with and the prosecutor informs the court of the victims' position, if known, regarding the negotiated plea.

For some crime victims, justice does not occur until a jury convicts the defendant of all of the charges they are facing. And, some crime victims feel that justice does not take place when a plea agreement results in lesser charges. Victims believe that a defendant should be required to serve the maximum amount of time in prison and not one minute less. At the same time, prosecutors hope to spare victims of the pain of being required to testify, a favorable result in cases involving young children, someone who is seriously ill or elderly people.

In conclusion, it is important that your legal situation should be handled by expert professionals with the experience possessed by the attorneys at the Law Offices of Craig W. Penrod, P.C. Our office offers free consultations for all criminal matters. Our Arizona criminal lawyers can provide you with the experience and knowledge needed for qualified representation. An experienced Arizona lawyer is vital and our attorneys set that standard. If you're in need of a criminal defense, our Arizona criminal attorneys are ready to assist you.

About the Author

Craig Penrod

Craig W. Penrod was born and raised in Arizona and has practiced criminal defense for over 30 years. Mr. Penrod is a member of the State Bar of Arizona, Maricopa County Bar Association, State of Nevada Bar Association, American Bar Association, American Trial Lawyers Association, Arizona Trial Lawyers Association, Nevada Trial Lawyers Association, Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

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