It is often said and widely accepted that ninety percent (90%) of criminal cases never make it to trial, due to plea bargaining. A plea bargain is an agreement between a defendant and the prosecutor for a lighter punishment in exchange for something else: usually a guilty plea, cooperation, or assistance of some kind. Typically, a plea agreement means avoiding trial in exchange for a guilty plea to a lesser charge. Not only does plea bargaining expedite the process for all involved, but it also saves money, and resources, and often results in a lighter sentence. However, you should know that even if you and the prosecutor reach an agreement that you are favorable of, judges have the authority to reject plea agreements, and sometimes do. If a judge rejects a plea, the agreement you and the prosecutor have made becomes null and void.
If a judge rejects your plea agreement, you are generally entitled to a continuance. However, the rejection of the plea itself is not appealable to a higher court. This is why it is important to have an experienced criminal defense attorney that can negotiate the best agreement possible that is not at risk of being thrown out by the judge.
Why Might a Judge Reject a Plea Agreement?
A judge may reject a plea for several reasons. First, the judge may believe that there is no probable cause for the charge in the first place. If the judge believes the state lacks sufficient evidence to proceed with the criminal process, it is his or her duty to prevent the case from going any further. No judge wishes to see an innocent person coerced into pleading guilty due to fear of a guilty verdict at trial.
Secondly, a judge may reject a plea if he or she believes the punishment is either too lenient or too harsh. Although plea bargaining allows the prosecutor and defendant to negotiate an agreement with a fair degree of independence from the court, a judge will not approve an agreement that is not proportional or one that violates the law’s sentencing guidelines.
Is a Plea Agreement Right for You?
You should never attempt to negotiate a plea bargain with a district attorney or prosecutor alone. If you have been charged with a misdemeanor or felony in North or South Carolina, the experienced criminal defense attorneys at King Law Offices can help you navigate the process. They will review the case, find points of leverage, and negotiate a fair agreement that helps you reach the goals for your case. And if no favorable deal is available, our attorneys are able, competent, and willing to continue fighting for your case, even if that means going to trial.
Contact King Law Offices today at 888-748-KING (5464) to ensure your plea agreement is handled with expertise and precision. Our experienced criminal defense attorneys understand the complexities of the legal system and will work diligently to negotiate the best possible outcome for your case.