If you or a loved one have been accused of a crime, your number one priority should be protecting your freedom. If you hire a qualified criminal defense lawyer in Boston, you have a much better chance of getting a reasonable plea deal than if you represent yourself. Plea deals can be difficult to make and a skilled and experienced attorney will be able to negotiate an agreement that you can live with.
Definition of a Plea Deal
In a nutshell, a plea bargain is an arrangement that has been negotiated between a prosecutor and a criminal defendant in a court of law. The defendant will plead nolo contendere or guilty to certain charges in exchange for the charges to be reduced or to have other charges dismissed. There are often specific stipulations to such a plea agreement, such as a requirement for the defendant to take alcohol classes or do community service. Plea bargains are sometimes given for helping to provide evidence in an investigation. They are also given in exchange for testimony against another defendant.
The process helps to save the courts money on a potential trial. A criminal trial can take months and it can be very costly to the state or county as well as the accused. Hence, plea deals are fairly common.
All plea bargains must be approved by a judge. The terms of the agreement are to be made on the record in open court or videotaped. When a prosecutor and an accused criminal cannot agree on a sentence, they will each propose what they think is a fair deal to a judge who will, in turn, make a final decision.
Prosecutors have been criticized in the past for using plea bargains to obtain false testimony or confessions. Opponents of plea bargaining have argued that in addition to intimidating someone who is wrongfully accused, a guilty person to go free.
Difference Between a Guilty Plea and One of No Contest
When a person enters a guilty plea, they are confessing to a crime and giving up their right to a trial. When they plead no contest, they are merely stating that they are not challenging the charges. Your attorney can advise you as to which one is right for your case.
Whether you make a plea of no contest or guilty makes little difference in a plea bargain. However, if the crime’s victim sues you, they can use a guilty plea as evidence in a civil suit for wrongful death, but, they can not use a plea of no contest as evidence in such a suit.
Finding an Attorney
Whenever you are accused of a crime, you need to find an attorney who has a good deal of experience in the particular law you have been accused of breaking. It is a good idea to find someone who has practiced law in Massachusetts for a long time and who keeps up to date on all new court decisions such as Matthew Peterson.
When you meet with your attorney, you should never be shy about asking them about their background. You should always call the state’s bar association to make sure that a lawyer is in good standing. Be sure to bring your arrest record and all documentation that is related to your case to your first meeting with your attorney.
A plea deal can help you put this unfortunate episode of your life behind you and let you move forward.