SD Defense Lawyer Explains Plea Bargaining

San Diego Criminal LawyerSan Diego Criminal Lawyer
An overwhelming percentage of cases do not go to trial.  Some cases will be dismissed at a preliminary hearing or by a defense motion.  Most cases end in a guilty plea in exchange for an agreed-upon disposition.  Winning at trial may have the best result, but there is substantial uncertainty.  Even innocent people have been convicted at trial, and often criminal defendants in San Diego are sentenced more harshly after being convicted at trial than the punishment that may have been received .  Taking your case to trial by jury is a right, and a very important one at that.  The most effective use of that right may just be to use the right to a trial as leverage in plea negotiations.

The prosecuting agencies in San Diego file tens of thousands of cases each year, and do not have the resources to prosecute all of them through the preliminary hearing, motions or at trial.  While it is often said that the public defender has too large of a case load, the fact is the prosecution has even more cases, serving as the prosecutor in every one of the public defender cases, plus all of the private attorney cases.  Private attorneys who maintain a small case load can prepare to take every case as far as needed to get the best possible outcome.  Sometimes the best outcome is achieved through a motion to dismiss or motion to suppress evidence.  Other times, there are strong trial defenses that make the defense a favorite to win at trial.  Nevertheless, most cases will result in a plea bargain, but it is important that the plea bargain be on YOUR terms.  Using all of the leverage and mitigating factors available, as well as reaching out to and meeting with supervisors at the DA's office are crucial steps to working out the best possible deal.  Sometimes the best deal can be achieved early on in the case, but frequently, getting a favorable disposition will require going all the way, arguing motions, doing the preliminary hearing and setting a case for trial.

Negotiation in criminal cases requires a diverse set of skills.  A great criminal defense attorney must be:

Organized.  Knowing who to contact, when, and actually doing so in time to make a difference in plea negotiations is very important.  Effectively presenting all of the various reasons the client deserves a break is absolutely imperative and requires good note-taking, memory and an established, proven process for getting the District Attorney, City Attorney and Judge on board with the defense's desired disposition.

Aggressive.  There is no room for a criminal lawyer to be timid or afraid of fighting for a client's rights or interests.  It is important to make bold requests and to be willing to fight a case as far as it can be.

Confident.  Being confident and projecting confidence are essential in plea negotiation.  If the DA senses that the trial will be an easy win for them, then the plea offers that they make will be worse.  When defense counsel projects confidence in his or her case, the DA will pick up on that as well and

Prepared.  Preparation is one of the hallmarks of great criminal defense representation.  It is important that a defense lawyer read and investigate everything available about the case, interview witnesses, prepare motions and know the case inside and out in order to provide the best possible representation.

Polite.  Being aggressive in the wrong situation can hurt.  While it is important to assert the client's rights and argue zealously for the position, treating the court and prosecution with the required decorum and respect are a necessary part of criminal defense and plea bargaining.

Intelligent.  Bottom line: you want the smartest person in the room to represent you.  Being able to know and understand the law and facts of your case better than the opponent is key.  Also knowing how to negotiate effectively and read people is vital to the criminal defense process.

If you or a loved one has been arrested or charged with a crime in San Diego, you can expect aggressive, harsh prosecution.  Whether you have strong defenses, were wrongfully accused or there is a very strong case against you, you need passionate, knowledgeable, dedicated and experienced representation.  Contact us now for a Free Consultation with a San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney.

Nicholas M. Loncar, Esq.
San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney
San Diego DUI Lawyer
T: 619-930-9515
By Nicholas Loncar          


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