A plea is a statement by a defendant where the accused admits guilt or innocence in response to criminal charges.
If the defendant pleads “not guilty” then the case proceeds to trial.
In many instances, however, the case will not go to trial. A plea bargain occurs when the defendant — with the advice of their Ocean City criminal defense attorney — and the prosecutor come to a deal. The Baltimore plea bargain will include a sentence that is acceptable to the defendant or a reduction of the charges in exchange for a guilty plea. The plea bargain means the case does not end up in litigation.
Plea bargains move cases through the system quicker than going to trial, which can take months and relieve the already overcrowded criminal justice system.
The majority – about 95 percent – of criminal cases end up in a plea bargain.
Advantages of a Maryland plea bargain
There are several advantages to “taking the deal:”
- Defendants avoid the uncertainty of a trial. You never know how a judge or a jury might rule.
- Plea bargains provide defendants with negotiating power and choices regarding the severity of their punishments.
- Some say plea bargains are a viable option for those who don’t have a lot of evidence to prove their innocence.
Your Ocean City criminal defense attorney will discuss the advantages of making a deal.
Disadvantages of a Maryland plea bargain
There are downsides to plea bargaining:
- The defendant gives up the right to their day in court and gives up the right to judgment by a jury of their peers.
- There have been allegations that the plea-bargaining system is abusive and that prosecutors make deals with innocent people who are afraid of what might happen if matters go to trial.
- Some say plea agreements lead to cases being resolved before defendants understand the case against them.
- Sometimes defendants are better off going to trial because they might be found not guilty.
The disadvantages of taking a plea deal should be discussed with your Baltimore criminal defense attorney.
In Maryland, when can a plea deal be made?
In most states, a defendant can arrange a plea bargain with a prosecutor at any time during your criminal case. The deal can be made before the prosecutor files charges, or an agreement can be arranged after the jury has started deliberations in your case.
A prosecutor might even be willing to negotiate a plea bargain after a conviction if your attorney indicates that an appeal will be filed.
Statements made during plea bargains are confidential
Statements made during the plea bargain process are confidential and can’t be used against you later in the process. For example, if you are charged with possession of illegal drugs with intent to sell and ask your Ocean City criminal defense attorney to negotiate a plea bargain. Under the proposed deal, you will admit that you possessed the drugs in order to get the charges reduced.
If the prosecutor rejects the deal and your case goes to trial, then the prosecutor can’t use the admission of drug possession against you. The prosecution must manage the case as if the admission had never made.
What happens if a person takes a plea bargain?
In order to make the deal, you must admit that you are guilty of the crime. The prosecutor informs the judge of the agreement. In many instances, the judge follows the agreement and moves on to sentencing. However, the judge can disregard the plea agreement and send the case to trial.
If you are facing criminal charges, you should talk to a criminal defense attorney. An Ocean City criminal defense lawyer will work to get the charges dropped or pleaded down to something less serious. The attorneys at Maronick Law LLC have experience with Maryland plea bargains.
Maronick Law, LLC is open during the pandemic and will continue to meet your Glen Burnie, Annapolis, Baltimore, Essex, Ocean City, Towson, White Marsh criminal defense lawyer needs.
If you have access to Zoom, we can meet with you remotely. The consultation is free. You can contact Thomas Maronick on his cellphone at 202.288.0167, the law office at 410.881.4022 or via the website.