Serving Clients in Orleans Parish, St. Tammany Parish, St. John Parish, St. James Parish, St. Bernard Parish, St. Charles Parish, Assumption Parish, Tangipahoa Parish, Terrebonne Parish, Plaquemines Parish and Jefferson Parish.
Plea Bargaining in Criminal Cases
Although plea bargaining is often criticized, more than 90 percent of criminal convictions come from negotiated pleas. Thus, less than ten percent of criminal cases go to trial. Plea negotiations have become a central part of every criminal case. So, what are the incentives behind plea bargaining? Below is a look from the points of view of different players in the criminal justice system.
Judges and Plea Bargaining
For judges, the key incentive for accepting a plea bargain is to alleviate the need to schedule and hold pre-trial motion hearings and a trial on an already overcrowded docket. Judges usually offer lesser penalties and lower sentences to encourage plea bargains.
Prosecutors and Plea Bargaining
For prosecutors, a lighter caseload is equally attractive. But more importantly, plea bargaining assures a conviction, even if it is for a lesser charge or crime. No matter how strong the evidence may be, no case is a foregone conclusion. Prosecutors often wage long and expensive trials but lose.
Moreover, prosecutors may use plea bargaining to further their case against a co-defendant. They may accept a plea bargain arrangement from one defendant in return for damaging testimony against another. This way, they are assured of at least one conviction (albeit on a lesser charge) plus enhanced chances of winning a conviction against the second defendant.
Defendants and Plea Bargaining
For a defendant in a criminal case, plea bargaining provides the opportunity for a lighter sentence on a less severe charge, and to have fewer (or less serious) offenses listed on a criminal record. If they are represented by private counsel, defendants also save the monetary costs of a lengthy trial by accepting a plea bargain. Lastly, first time offenders are given the opportunity to have their records expunged in exchange for a plea.
Do not accept a plea bargain until you have consulted a skilled lawyer!
If you have been arrested or contacted by law enforcement, contact New Orleans Criminal Defense Attorney Elizabeth B. Carpenter. Ms. Carpenter has the skill and experience you need to effectuate a strong defense.
Elizabeth B. Carpenter Law Firm is a premier litigation law group focusing onNew Orleans Criminal Defense, DWI Defense, New Orleans Cyber Crimes Defense and Personal Injury Law. Each client is offered the individual attention and personal touch of a high end boutique law firm. We are extremely selective in the cases that we accept. Our firm is built on the foundation that every client deserves to be treated with dignity and compassion regardless of the legal issues they are battling.
We have obtained an overwhelming number of dismissals and acquittals in difficult cases involving well respected individuals, especially in cases where allegations are made against teachers, doctors, nurses and financial advisors. The outstanding results we achieve are largely due to the fact that we limit the number of cases we take which allows us to conduct thorough investigations, employ an aggressive pretrial motion practice and use innovative trial preparation tools. Our impressive achievements show why we are a top New Orleans law firm. We work hard to protect the interests of our clients, from the first meeting to the final verdict.
New Orleans Criminal Defense Attorney
Expungements and First Time Offender
Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure Article 893 / 894
If you have been charged with a felony or misdemeanor for the first time in Louisiana, you should ask your attorney to enter any guilty plea under Article 893 or 894 of the Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure. Article 893 is for felony pleas and 894 is for misdemeanor pleas. The advantage of the 893 / 894 plea is that the conviction is never entered on your record. If you follow all the conditions of your sentence, you will be granted the opportunity to expunge the arrest.
Client was arrested and charged with Simple Battery, a misdemeanor. After reviewing the case, the client chose to plea guilty. As part of the plea agreement, the district attorney agreed to allow client to enter her plea under article 894. The judge sentenced the client to 6 months incarceration suspended and 1 year active probation. Once client successfully completes probation and pays all fines and costs. She may file a motion to have her record sealed, thereby completely avoiding the appearance of a criminal record.
When you enter a plea under 893 or 894, the conviction is deferred. This means that your guilty plea is not accepted by the judge, but instead put aside while you complete your probation. If you complete the requirements of your probation, which will include: 1) staying out of trouble for a certain period of time, 2) classes, 3) community service, 4) counseling, 5) random drug testing and 6) payment of fines or restitution, the judge will dismiss the charges.
It is imperative that you fulfill all conditions set forth in your plea agreement including completion of probation. Otherwise, your probation officer and/or the district attorney can summons you back to court and ask the judge to revoke your probation and accept your previously entered guilty plea. The suspension of your sentence will cease and you will have to serve your original jail sentence.
Client was arrested and charged with Distribution of Cocaine. The district attorney agreed to reduce the charge to Simple Possession of Cocaine in exchange for a guilty plea under Article 893. The judge sentenced her to 5 years incarceration suspended and 3 years active probation. Once client successfully completes the 3 years of probation and pays all fees and costs. She may file a motion to have her record sealed, thereby completely avoiding the appearance of a felony on her record.
Your criminal defense lawyer must state on the official court record that you are entering a plea under Article 893 / 894. It should also be in writing on your plea agreement. Having this kind of documentation will help you to petition for an expungment of your arrest when you become eligible.
Note: More serious offenses, such as Crimes of Violence are not eligible for an 893 plea. These offenses are also non-expungeable.
Generally, 893 / 894 pleas are easy to obtain for first time offenders. It is the Criminal Justice System’s way of giving someone another chance. If you have been arrested and need legal representation, call the Law Office of Elizabeth B. Carpenter, Esq. We are ready to help you!
NEW ORLEANS CRIMINAL DEFENSE BLOG
EXPUNGEMENT DAY: This is a community event wherein clients can come to the Dr. Leo S. Butler Community Center in Baton Rouge on Saturday, January 14, 2012 from 9:30 am to 1 pm for free legal advice relating to eligibility for and benefits of expungement. In addition, there will be “Ask A Lawyer” stations where attendees can obtain legal advice concerning housing and employment law issues as well as stations where they can register to vote.