Plea Bargains in Nevada: What Is It and How Does It Work
Plea bargains are a common practice in criminal justice systems throughout the U.S., and Nevada is no exception. In fact, according to USCourts.gov, more than 90% of defendants enter into some sort of plea bargain rather than go to trial.
Recently, Ezra Miller, who plays The Flash, entered a guilty plea for a lesser charge in order to avoid facing felony
However, it’s important to understand that plea deals have both pros and cons that must be weighed carefully. Despite the urgency of a speedy trial, defendants must consider the possibility of making a deal that could lead to more severe consequences in the long term.
If you, or someone you know, is facing criminal charges, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Nevada. They can help you better understand all of your legal options and decide when a plea bargain is the best course of action.
The Defenders is a law firm in Las Vegas dedicated to providing criminal defense services. Our team of experienced lawyers is available to provide you with an initial free consultation and advise you on the best way to approach your case.
What Is a Plea Bargain and How Does It Work
A plea bargain, also known as a plea agreement or plea deal, is an arrangement between a criminal defendant and the prosecutor that allows the defendant to plead guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for some other type of consideration.
This could involve a reduced sentence, dropping certain charges, or even avoiding a trial altogether. Typically, the defendant agrees to plead guilty in exchange for the prosecutor recommending a lesser sentence or for the dropping of certain charges. The prosecutor may also agree to recommend a particular sentence, such as probation instead of jail time.
It can be an attractive option for defendants who do not wish to risk going to trial but may still want some measure of punishment that is less severe than what they would face if convicted at trial.
In this article, we will discuss the definition of a plea bargain in Nevada, its advantages and disadvantages, the types of agreements available, how it works, pros and cons of taking a deal instead of going to trial, potential consequences if you reject an offer or violate its terms, alternatives to pleading guilty through a plea bargain and address some frequently asked questions about this legal process.
Types of Plea Bargains Available
The U.S. Justice Department has developed four types of plea agreements that can be negotiated:
- Charge agreements
- Recommendation Agreements
- Specific Sentence Agreements
- Fact-Stipulation Agreements
Let’s take a look at each one:
Charge Agreements, or charge bargaining, are the most common type of plea bargain. This type of agreement allows the defendant to avoid certain charges that may have been filed against them. The defendant can choose to plead guilty to a less severe crime, which typically has a more favorable sentencing scheme under the guidelines.
For example, if a defendant is charged with possession of a controlled substance (felony), they may plead guilty to the lesser charge of drug paraphernalia (misdemeanor) instead, leading to reduced penalties.
Under this type of agreement, the prosecutor will suggest a particular sentence for the defendant or will not oppose a sentence request made by the defendant. This can often result in a more lenient sentence.
For example, a prosecutor agrees to recommend a sentence of one year in jail instead of the maximum sentence of five years for a defendant charged with theft.
Specific Sentence Agreement
With a specific sentence agreement, the court will impose a predetermined sentence within the guidelines or a specific sentence that deviates from the guidelines for a justified reason.
For example, a court agrees to impose a lesser sentence of 45 days in jail for a defendant charged with a first-time DUI offense.
This type of agreement is not a standalone plea-bargaining tactic. Instead, it supports part of one of the other three types of agreements, typically by stipulating certain facts and evidence of the case.
Advantages of Plea Bargains
Plea bargains can be a beneficial option for both the defendant and the prosecutor.
Defendants benefit from plea bargaining because it can help them avoid more severe sentences if they are convicted at trial, as well as save on court costs, attorney fees, and other associated expenses.
For prosecutors, plea bargaining helps streamline the criminal justice process. It helps to reduce the workload of prosecutors and judges, as well as freeing up resources that would have been used in lengthy trials.
It can also bring closure and offer a quicker resolution to criminal cases compared to the traditional court process, which means justice can be served in a more timely manner, providing closure for victims and allowing them to move on with their lives more quickly.
Disadvantages of Plea Bargains
On the other hand, defendants may face a number of disadvantages when taking a plea bargain. First, they may be required to plead guilty to an offense they may not have committed or to an offense that’s more serious than what they are actually guilty of.
In addition, some plea bargains involve “waiving” rights, such as the right to appeal the conviction or sentence. This could lead to defendants being stuck with a harsher sentence if something unexpected happens and their case goes to trial.
Finally, plea bargains can have long-term consequences.
A guilty plea may stay on the defendant’s criminal record and be used against them if they are ever charged with a crime in the future. It could also make it difficult for them to obtain employment or housing in the future, as employers and landlords may be wary of someone with a prior criminal history.
They will, then, have to go through the process of sealing their records.
Process for Negotiating and Accepting a Plea Deal in Nevada
After hiring a defense attorney, they’ll first gather and examine all potential evidence in your case, such as witness testimonies and surveillance footage, to present you in a positive light. Additionally, your defense attorney will search for inconsistencies and weaknesses in the prosecution’s case. If your defense attorney is able to find sufficient doubt in the prosecution’s case, they may no longer be able to confidently convict you at trial.
If the prosecutors think they have a weak case against you, they may offer a good plea deal. In this situation, the charges may get dismissed or reduced to lesser offenses. This can be a great outcome because it avoids the expense and time of a trial, and it could also keep your criminal record clear of more serious offenses.
Once your defense attorney has received a plea deal offer from the prosecution, they will review it with you. Your defense attorney will explain the terms of the offer and what the consequences are of accepting it. If you choose to accept the plea deal, your defense attorney will help you fill out paperwork and submit it to the court.
Sometimes, the prosecution may not offer a good plea deal at first. They may even offer a deal that is unfavorable for you. This could be their attempt to see how much leverage they have over you. In this scenario, your defense attorney will be equipped to negotiate and advocate for a better deal on your behalf. It’s important to have a skilled attorney during this negotiation because they can often find ways to significantly improve the original offer. It’s also why we don’t recommend representing yourself because you won’t have the same knowledge and experience needed for successful negotiations.
Once your plea agreement is filed and approved by the court, you will need to complete some formalities such as paying any fines or completing any conditions that were agreed to. Your defense attorney will ensure that you understand everything required of you and help you complete these formalities.
Pros and Cons of Taking a Plea Deal Instead of Going to Trial
For some defendants, taking a plea deal may be the best option. It can provide closure in your case and make sure that you don’t face any more serious charges than what you are actually guilty of. On the other hand, it also means waiving your right to an appeal if things don’t go as planned.
If a defendant accepts a plea bargain, they may have a criminal record and be subjected to certain conditions such as mandatory drug testing or community service. They will also have to admit guilt for the crime they were accused of—which would go on their criminal record.
Ultimately, discussing the pros and cons of a plea deal with an attorney is the best way to decide if it is the right move for your situation.
Potential Consequences of Rejecting an Offer or Violating Its Terms
If you choose to reject a plea bargain offer, the prosecution can use any evidence they have against you at trial and argue that the plea deal was not accepted in good faith. They may also decide to increase the severity of the charges against you or add additional charges to your case.
If you accept a plea deal and then violate its terms, such as failing to pay fines or not appearing in court when required, the prosecution can request that the judge revoke your plea agreement and reinstate their original offer. This could result in more serious penalties such as a longer jail sentence or increased fines.
It’s important to follow the terms of your plea deal carefully in order to avoid any potential complications down the road.
Facing Criminal Charges and Considering a Taking a Plea?
Before making any decisions, it is essential to discuss your situation with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your attorney will be able to explain how the law applies to your case, negotiate with the prosecution for a favorable plea deal, and ensure that you understand all of the consequences that come with pleading guilty or no contest.
The Defenders is here to help. Our experienced criminal defense attorneys can provide skilled representation and help you understand your rights and options. We will analyze your situation and make sure that we take the best possible course of action for your defense.
We understand how overwhelming this process can be and are here to provide you with guidance every step of the way. We will ensure that you have all the information needed to make an informed decision and help you navigate through this difficult experience with confidence.
Contact us today to get started on your defense.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a plea bargain?
A plea bargain is a deal between the defendant and the prosecutor where the defendant agrees to plead guilty to a less severe charge or to some of the charges in exchange for a reduction in sentencing.
What are the benefits of accepting a plea bargain?
Accepting a plea bargain can help reduce the time and money involved in a trial, reduce the uncertainty of a verdict, and provide a more lenient sentence.
Do I have to accept a plea bargain if offered?
No, defendants have the right to refuse a plea bargain and opt for a trial instead.
Is a plea bargain always a good option?
Not always. Depending on the particulars of the case, a plea bargain may not be the best course of action. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help advise you on whether accepting a plea bargain is right for you.
Can a plea bargain be rejected by the judge?
Yes, a judge has the discretion to reject a plea bargain if they deem it unfair or not in the best interest of justice.
Can a plea bargain be changed/withdrawn after it has been agreed upon?
Generally, no. Once a plea bargain has been agreed upon and accepted by both parties, it is considered binding. You can always try to withdraw your plea by filing a motion to withdraw the plea, but the chances for success is very low.
Do I need an attorney for a plea bargain?
It is highly recommended to have an experienced criminal defense attorney represent you during plea bargain negotiations to ensure your rights are protected and that the deal is in your best interest.