Plea Agreements: What are they and how do they work?
Plea agreements, also known as “plea bargains” are a common subject of conversation lately as reports circulate about several of President Trump’s high level campaign workers and appointees making plea agreements. These agreements are also important in the day to day practice of criminal law. Here is an introduction to plea agreements under Arkansas and Federal law:
What is a plea agreement?
Essentially, a plea agreement is a negotiated agreement between the defendant and/or their defense attorney and the prosecutor. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 95% of all criminal convictions result from a guilty plea. This makes the ability to negotiate a fair plea agreement one of the most important aspects of criminal defense work.
Can a judge refuse to accept a plea agreement?
Yes, if a judge does not like an agreement reached between the prosecutor and the defendant, he or she can inform the parties that the agreement will not be accepted in its current state. But, under both the Arkansas and Federal rules, the judge must inform the defendant that he or she is not going to honor the agreement and give the defendant an opportunity to withdraw the guilty plea.
Can plea agreements be used as evidence against you if withdrawn?
No, the Arkansas and Federal rules of evidence both state that plea agreements cannot be used against the defendant if the case ends up going to trial.
How can your attorney help?
A criminal defense attorney is in a much better position to negotiate a plea agreement than a defendant. Defense attorneys are familiar with the prosecutors’ offices in their region and know the customs and procedures of each office. For example, there may not be a law saying that a prosecutor cannot negotiate about a certain drug charge but the prosecutor’s office may have an internal policy against negotiating on that charge. Often, defense attorneys will have spent time as prosecutors earlier in their careers, which makes them even more familiar with how a prosecutor would view a potential agreement.
Charlcee Small is an attorney in Northwest Arkansas who focuses on criminal defense. If you would like to meet with her to discuss your case, please contact the Joyce Law Firm to schedule a consultation.
JoyceLaw Firm was founded in 2002 by Kirk Joyce. Each of the attorneys at the Joyce Law Firm focus in specific areas of law, including, but not limited to: personal injury, immigration, criminal defense, family law, and business law. Contact the Joyce Law Firm today at 479-442-5577.
To learn more about Plea Agreements visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plea_bargain/