At any point in the proceedings against you, you might find that your criminal defense lawyer and the prosecution are able to reach a settlement to the charges against you. The settlement will end the criminal charges against you, and the settlement is known as the plea bargain.

The plea deal is the result of negotiations between your team and the prosecution team, and is based on certain factors. Prosecutors will take into consideration the seriousness of the charges against you, your prior criminal history, and the amount of evidence that the prosecution has against you. Basically, your attorney will also consider the probability of winning the case if it goes to trial. A plea deal prevents a trial, and is how an overwhelming majority of all criminal cases in Denver end.

Should You Accept A Plea Bargain?

An overwhelming majority of criminal cases in Colorado do not go to trial. Instead, they are settled as part of a plea bargain. A plea bargain results out of negotiations between your Denver criminal defense attorney, and the prosecutor’s office. These negotiations are aimed at ensuring a quicker resolution to the criminal charges against you.

Both sides will meet, and will discuss all of the strengths and weaknesses in the other side’s case. The defendant’s history will be analyzed, and parties will try to reach a settlement. The settlement must be fair to the defendant.

A plea bargain usually results in either a sentencing concession or a charging concession. In a charging concession, the prosecutor may either agree to dismiss or lower the charges against you in exchange for a guilty plea from you. In a plea deal with a sentencing concession, the prosecutor will agree to recommend a lower sentence or a different type of sentence in exchange for a guilty plea.

Whether you should accept a plea deal is something that you should discuss with a Denver criminal defense lawyer. Remember, there are a great number of advantages that come with a plea bargain, but there may be some drawbacks as well. Your attorney is much better equipped to consider your case and your unique circumstances, before advising you about accepting a plea deal. If he determines that the terms of the plea deal are not favorable to you, he may simply advise that you should take the risk of going to trial.

That however, is done only when your attorney is extremely confident of the amount of evidence that he can present in court to refute the charges against you. Remember however, that a plea deal may not be available in every type of situation. The judge in your case must also approve of the plea deal -he is under no obligation to accept the deal at all.

What Are the Benefits of a Plea Bargain?

In the event of a settlement that seems to be the most favorable outcome for you, your attorneys will advise that you accept the deal. In most cases however, a plea deal will require you to enter a guilty plea to a criminal offense. In spite of this, there are several benefits to accepting a plea deal.

For one thing, you may have concessions in the kind of sentencing that is imposed on you. As part of a plea deal, you may have lower sentences, or may be able to avoid prison time altogether. For many persons, avoiding prison is one of the primary considerations in the decision to accept a deal.

In other cases, when it is not possible for your Denver criminal defense lawyer to completely eliminate prison time as part of a plea deal, the prosecution may offer a reduced prison sentence. If the charges against you are serious, you might find that a reduced term is much better than a lengthier term, even though it means going to prison for a few months at the very least.

You might also find that a plea deal involves you filing guilty to lesser charges against you, than the charges that would normally have been filed under Colorado law. Even if you plead guilty to such offenses, you do not have the stigma of a much more serious criminal conviction on your record.

Remember, it’s never wise to make a decision about a plea bargain without first speaking to a Denver criminal defense attorney.

What Happens After a Plea Bargain?

If you accept a plea bargain, your case will not need to go to trial. Instead, the prosecutor will present the terms of the plea deal to the judge and ask that the court accept the terms and halt the legal proceedings.

Even though the prosecutor is the one who presents the plea deal, the court has no obligation to accept it, although they do accept in the majority of cases. To determine whether or not to accept the deal, the court considers a number of factors including, but not limited to:

  • The defendant’s prior criminal history
  • Recommendations presented by medical or treatment providers
  • Statements made by the victim and his/her family along with the defendant’s family
  • The details of the crime that was committed

If the judge does accept the plea bargain, then the terms of the deal will be officially recorded by the court, and both parties are legally required to follow the terms of the deal. The judge will officially hand down the sentence that was agreed upon as part of the plea deal, and the case will not move on to the trial phase.

Get sound legal advice at every step of the proceedings against you, by consulting with a Denver criminal defense lawyer at every stage. Remember, it is important to weigh the pros and cons of a plea bargain with a Denver criminal defense attorney before you accept the deal. Sometimes, it makes sense, especially when the evidence against you is solid, to enter a guilty plea deal and accept a reduced sentence. However, if you have a strong case, and believe that you can win your case at trial, then that is exactly what your attorney must be ready to do for you.

By: Dan Murphy

Denver criminal defense lawyer Daniel M. Murphy provides clients in the Denver area with aggressive and sympathetic legal representation. He graduated from the University of Denver Law School in 1994 and worked as a public defender before starting his own practice in 1996. He has defended clients accused of the most difficult criminal and alcohol-related charges. He also serves as a Moot Court Judge for Denver-area law students who rely on his mentorship.