Plea Bargains in New Jersey
In New Jersey criminal trials, an option for the defendant to avoid the possibility of a harsh sentence is a plea bargain. A plea bargain is an alternative that might be preferable to running the risk of going to trial. Sometimes, it is in the interest of the prosecutor representing the State of New Jersey to offer a plea bargain and save money and time for the government.
In general, unless the defendant is innocent and his or her attorney feels the charges will not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt and result in a conviction, a plea bargain is a viable and smart option. In some cases, it may not even include jail time and the defendant will have to pay a fine or be subject to some other manageable punishment.
Types of Plea Bargains
A plea bargain is an admission of guilt on the part of the defendant for a known outcome in terms of punishment or a reduced charge. There are several types of plea agreements. They include:
- Pleading guilty to one charge as other charges against the defendant are dismissed
- The prosecutor recommends a sentence to a judge due to the defendant's guilty plea
- The defendant pleads guilty to a lesser offense than the original charge
It is not required that a judge accept a plea agreement. If the court doesn't accept a plea agreement, the prosecutor and the defendant can negotiate another arrangement that might be more acceptable to the court.
In many circumstances, the judge will encourage both parties to consider coming to a plea agreement to save money and time for the State and the defendant. Even if the judge doesn't accept the plea agreement as it is initially presented, making small alterations to the deal can make it palatable for both sides and be accepted by the court.
In Which Cases Should a Defendant Consider a Plea Bargain?
There are cases in which a plea bargain is not offered due to the severity of the crime and other factors. The government wins a vast number of the cases that wind up going to trial, so it behooves a defendant and the attorney to pursue and negotiate a plea bargain if one is offered or discussed. A plea bargain also benefits the prosecutors in another way as it is recorded as a conviction without the need for trial and possibility that the defendant will be acquitted of the charges. The court will also save time and resources by having the case cleared and move on to other matters that may be more important.
The following types of cases should be considered for a plea bargain by defendants and their attorneys:
- Driving while intoxicated (DWI) and/or driving under the influence (DUI)
- Traffic violations
- Drug possession
- Drug distribution
- Violent crimes, such as assault
- Threat crimes
- Domestic violence
- Juvenile crimes
- White collar offenses
- Crimes on the internet
Contact an Attorney Experienced in Criminal Cases and Plea Bargains
If you or a loved one have been accused of a crime in New Jersey and need legal representation, the attorneys at Villani & DeLuca are here to help. Whether you're from Monmouth or Ocean County, from a town like Brick, Asbury Park or anywhere in New Jersey, the lawyers at Villani & DeLuca—located in Point Pleasant Beach, NJ—can assist you.
A plea bargain may be in the best interests of the defendant in spite of believing that they would prefer to go to trial. A plea bargain may include conditions that make it an easy decision when compared with the risk of going to trial and being convicted. It is up to the defense attorney to explain the situation in a way that is understandable to the defendant and the options can be weighed logically and in their own best interests.
With extensive experience in criminal law and in negotiating plea deals with prosecutors throughout New Jersey, your criminal case doesn't necessarily have to result in severe penalties and long-term damage to your future. A plea bargain may be the best possible option to put the episode behind you and the attorneys at Villani & DeLuca can help. Call today to discuss your case.