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UNDERSTANDING THE CRIMINAL PROCESS
Plea Bargaining
Plea bargaining is a process whereby the defense attorney negotiates with the district attorney to obtain the best possible plea for his client. Occasionally, the judge may be involved in the plea negotiation by speaking to the attorneys in an "in chambers" conference. The typical result of the plea bargain is an agreement for you to plead guilty to a particular charge or set of charges in exchange for a set of terms, such as agreeing to receive a specific sentence or reduced charges in exchange for information about others who may be involved in the incident.

Plea bargains are often good, but of course some are not. You NEVER have to accept an offered plea bargain. Even after entering a plea, you can sometimes make a motion to withdraw the plea and go forward with the defense of your case.

This process may include charging the defendant with a lesser charge, or agreeing to a lesser punishment for the same charge. Sometimes, the prosecution will drop counts in exchange for something they value.

For example, if a defendant is charged with felony assault and carrying a concealed weapon, a plea bargain may result in the prosecution agreeing to drop the concealed weapon charge and lower the felony assault to a misdemeanor assault in exchange for a guilty plea, which makes their job easier than if you pleaded not guilty and took the case to trial.




THE CRIMINAL PROCESS
THE BASICS
THE CASE
THE COURTS

IMPORTANT!
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PRE-FILE ALERT:
Don't Wait Until You Are Arrested!

If you even suspect that you may be charged with a crime, speak to an attorney now!

Very often before formal charges are filed, there is an investigation. Law enforcement tries to gather as much evidence as possible to build their case against you. This is the pre-file stage of a case.

This pre-file period can be the most crucial stage of a criminal case. Since you haven't been arrested, you don't have any Miranda Rights. This is when most people fall into law enforcement traps designed to destroy their legal case.

Learn more

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APPEALS ALERT!
Blakely v. Washington May
Give You a Second Chance

If you or someone you know was sentenced after 1998 (if the conviction was appealed) or 2000 (if there was no appeal), the new United States Supreme Court decision in Blakely vs. Washington may provide a second change to review your sentence!

WHAT TO DO IF ...
If Arrested
If Accused or Under Investigation
Members: NACDL and ABA
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