If you have been arrested for a crime such as robbery, burglary, aggravated assault, unlawful possession of a weapon, heroin distribution, or another indictable offense, you may be wondering what happens next and if you have to plead guilty. After you have been arrested, the police may book you and release you within a short period of time or hold you in jail pending a detention hearing. You will then have to appear in court for arraignment, at which time you will be asked to either enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. At this time or shortly thereafter, a New Jersey prosecutor may offer you what is called a “plea bargain.” You should rely on advice from experienced defense counsel in determining whether to take a plea bargain, but this article provides a some key considerations for you to consider before taking a plea offer or deciding to plead guilty to any criminal offense. If you are facing felony charges and would like speak with one of the Ocean County criminal defense lawyers at our firm, call (848) 238-2100 today or contact us online for a free consultation.
What is a Plea Agreement?
More specifically, the prosecutor may offer you a deal in which you plead guilty to one or more of the charges that have been filed against you, and in exchange for your guilty plea and acceptance of responsibility for the crime, the prosecutor may:
- Drop other pending charges
- Dismiss other cases pending against you
- Downgrade the original charge to a lesser offense; or
- Reduce the penalties associated with your conviction for the crime to which you pleaded guilty.
Assuming the court accepts this plea bargain, the deal may offer a favorable way of resolving your pending criminal charges. If the court does not agree to accept the plea bargain, your attorney and the prosecutor may make modifications that may make the agreement more acceptable to the court.
Offered a Plea in Ocean County Superior Court, What Should I do?
Consult an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer First
Most courts will advise you to consult with experienced criminal defense counsel prior to pleading guilty to a crime. A knowledgeable attorney will be able to advise you regarding the fines, jail time, and other potential consequences associated with your guilty plea. If you are facing charges, it is best to get expert advice before entering into an agreement that can have profound consequences for the rest of your life. This is especially true when you are new to the criminal justice system or facing severe or unfamiliar charges. Our lawyers thoroughly investigate your case to find any loopholes or holes in the evidence that we can use to get your charges dismissed. We also run through all of your available options, such as a diversionary program like Pretrial Intervention (PTI), before we even consider recommending that you a plea offer. In the case that a plea offers the best outcome, we negotiate with the prosecutor for the best possible results.
Consider Immigration Consequences
If you are not a citizen of the United States, pleading guilty to a crime can negatively impact your immigration status, potentially subjecting you to deportation. The affect that pleading guilty can have on your immigration status can be complicated; it varies from crime to crime and even based on the specific facts underlying crimes within the same category. The best person to consult regarding how a plea agreement may affect your immigration status is a qualified attorney experienced in handling criminal matters with immigration consequences.
Determine what the Plea Really Offers
Prosecutors may bundle up multiple criminal charges and even potentially multiple open cases or terms of probation in a plea agreement. If you have a high number of outstanding criminal charges, a plea bargain can help you reduce the potential penalties you’re facing and increase the likelihood that you will be able to successfully complete them without violating probation. A desirable plea agreement may not only subject you to less severe penalties for the crime to which you’re pleading, but it could also reduce the burden of other court obligations. If you enlist our representation, our experienced criminal defense attorneys will be able to advise you further on the potential benefits of this type of “package deal.”
Find a Local Ocean County Criminal Defense Attorney to Defend Your Case
You should also be aware that a plea bargain will almost certainly guarantee you lower criminal penalties than you would receive after you are found guilty at trial. The certainty of receiving an agreed upon resolution prior to trial can be a significant advantage to you, depending on the specific circumstances of your offense. However, a plea offer is not something to be taken lightly. Getting help from the best criminal attorney you can find is worth the investment in your freedom and your future. Call (848) 238-2100 for a free consultation with an experienced Ocean County criminal defense lawyer at our firm.