I’ve always said that it takes true courage to fight the charges against you. If you are facing prosecution it is likely the most stressful time of your life. You were arrested, had to bond out (or maybe you don’t have a bond), you have a job to lose, a car to lose, a house to lose, kids who need food, shelter, and care and all of the sudden you think you may lose it all.
The situation plays itself out over and over again – to truly test the system, to hold the state to their burden of proof, to ensure cops don’t trample your rights, to ensure you are being treated fairly takes real courage.
You may ask why that is. Let’s take a look at a common situation.
A person is arrested for some sort of crime. They hire me as their attorney and then we typically receive the discovery from the district attorney’s office. Along with this discovery prosecutors usually send a plea recommendation.
The plea recommendation can go a couple of ways and is very dependent on the prosecutor. Some prosecutors make outrageous plea offers knowing that they will come down from that offer and eventually make a better deal while other prosecutors make their best offer right off of the bat.
The plea recommendation depends on many other variables as well including your criminal history, the crime you are charged with, the victim’s wishes, whether the DA is up for election (sad, but sometimes true), and even whether or not your case has garnered publicity.
So, along with the initial plea recommendation, your attorney gets your discovery packet. After interviewing my client and reviewing the discovery I may determine that there are some appropriate motions to file in a case. Those motions may be a motion to suppress evidence (based on some sort of unlawful activity on the part of the government) or motions to render you immune from prosecution because you were acting in self-defense or because some other legal provision prevents you from being prosecuted (for instance, the medical amnesty law). These motions are common where someone has drug charges, or statements are given in a sex crime case.
Filing the motion is no problem, but going forward with a hearing on the motion may present a difficult decision for my client. Prosecutors typically will advise me and my client that if we go forward on the motion they are pulling their guilty plea. For instance, the original offer may have been three years to serve one year in prison. But, the government advises us that they will no longer be honoring that offer if we go forward. That is the first tough decision and it takes courage to proceed at this point.
Let’s assume that the client makes the courageous decision to proceed with the motions. That can go to ways: 1) the prosecutors may very well pull the deal; 2) the courage may pay off (as it did for a client this week) and the prosecutors actually make a new and better offer – for instance, three years probation.
If the prosecutors make a better offer, as they often do immediately before a hearing, it takes even more courage to proceed with a hearing at that point because you know that to proceed with a hearing you aren’t guaranteed to win (there are no guarantees in the world of criminal law) you are foregoing what may be the best plea offer you will get.
There are a few reasons that when we threaten with a hearing, prosecutors threaten to pull an offer. One reason is that prosecutors are creatures of habit and hearings delay court dates and take time out of their days. Additionally, hearings take judges time and require law enforcement to sit at court for a substantial amount of time. The important thing is to know that it is impossible to win a hearing if you don’t have that hearing.
Even if you do not win the hearing the all is not lost. There are still several options by which you may resolve your case. There is NEVER a situation in which you must accept a state’s offer. You always have the option for a trial, and if the prosecutors agree, you may be able to enter a blind plea where your attorney can make a sensible argument to the judge.
Whether its drug charges, a violent offense, a property crime, or a sex crime it is always important that you consult with your attorney about the ramifications of the decisions made during your case. Contact us today to consult about your case let us see what we can do to help you.
J. Ryan Brown Law, LLC