Before a criminal case makes it to trial, which is where the final ruling is generally made, a defendant may be offered a plea bargain, sometimes referred to as a plea agreement, in exchange for a guilty plea. Now, not always will a defendant be required to plead guilty to the charges that have been filed against him or her. Instead, Guideline 2 of the Guidelines for Operation of Plea Agreements in the Municipal Courts of New Jersey states that a plea bargain may be offered when:
- The defendant is facing multiple charges and agrees to plead guilty to one resulting in the others being dismissed.
- The defendant is willing to plead guilty to an offense of a lesser degree than what he or she was initially charged with.
- The prosecutor proposes a sentence for the defendant to serve when he or she submits a guilty plea.
What happens when a plea bargain is accepted?
Let’s say an individual is facing a misdemeanor assault charge along with a felony robbery charge. The plea bargain the prosecutor has drawn up states that if the defendant pleads guilty to the misdemeanor assault charge, the robbery charge shall be dropped. Naturally, this would reduce the penalties the defendant is up against as he or she would only be convicted on one charge, not two. Now, depending on what penalties the crime carries with it, the defendant could still be faced with jail time, having to pay fines, etc. should he or she accept the plea bargain. The agreement will stipulate the terms as well as the penalties before the defendant accepts it.
However, if the defendant does not wish to agree to one or more terms outlined in the initial plea bargain that was offered, he or she can communicate this to their NJ criminal defense lawyer who can then attempt to negotiate with the prosecutor on getting the agreement modified. If both parties are able to come to terms on a plea bargain and the judge accepts it, the case ends there and the defendant’s sentence would then be carried out.
What happens when a defendant chooses not to accept the plea bargain that was offered and/or the prosecutor isn’t willing to negotiate the terms?
In the event a defendant chooses not to accept a plea bargain that was offered by the prosecutor, whether it’s because he or she believes they aren’t guilty and has solid evidence to prove this, the case will then be taken to trial. When a case goes to trial after a defendant has refused to accept a plea bargain that was offered, he or she is at risk of being convicted on all the crimes they were accused of committing. This would likely result in more severe penalties being imposed.
In what ways does it benefit me to hire a criminal defense lawyer after being charged in Newark, NJ?
It benefits to hire a criminal defense attorney in Newark, NJ after being charged with one or more criminal offenses as they can help you understand the charges that have been filed against you and can explain your rights. Aside from this, a defense lawyer will help you to make an informed decision as to whether you should accept a plea bargain or can work on your behalf to convince the prosecutor to modify the terms so that you are more inclined to accept it and won’t have to take your case to trial. In the event your case is taken to trial, your criminal defense attorney will be there guiding you and supporting you each step of the way.
Now, if you would like to learn more about The Law Office of Eric M. Mark and what qualifies us to represent you in your case, contact us now at 973-453-2009.
The Law Office of Eric M. Mark is located at:
201 Washington Street
Newark, NJ 07102