Saturday, November 15, 2014

Ithaca DWI Lawyer: What Happens When a Judge Rejects the Plea Offer?

"Don't count your chickens before they hatch."

My grandma taught me a great many things. The truth of her words came from a Russian farm culture. She would often say things that would resonate with me for years to come.

What Happens if The Prosecutor Offers a Great Deal but . . .

So the prosecutor gives your client (and you) an amazing deal. A bargain better than you could have imagined. As a defense attorney we have to get everything or everyone to line up so to speak. We have to satisfy the prosecutor (the DA), and the Judge, and sometimes even a 3rd party (i.e.. paying restitution for damages) before we can move past the resolution of criminal charges. Resolving conflict is just that, compromise and satisfying all the parties.

What happens if we have discord?
What happens if one of the parties (judge or prosecutor) is unsatisfied?
What happens if they are unhappy with the deal being made or presented?

That deal will NOT go through. That deal will die. An offer presented by the DA and then accepted by a client is not always the end. It still has to pass muster. It still needs the blessing and approval of the Court (namely the residing judge). Without their OK the deal will not be consummated.

Three Ways to get a DEAL Passed

1. We go back to the prosecutor and re-negotiate with new terms. Ones the judge will approve of.
2. We move the case to hearings, and potentially a trial. Allow a jury to decide.
3. We conference with the judge and prosecutor, and between the parties fashion a workable deal.

Deals will Usually Involve Conditions and Obligations

All plea deals have consequences of one type or another. It could be community service, it could be jail time, it could be probation, it could be fines, it could be classes, it could be treatment, or it could be just a stay "trouble free" time period.

Recent Deals with Fixes

I've had a number of recent deals be rejected by judges. Some involved creativity to resolve. Sometimes people want the damnedest things:

Judge wanted my client to plea to 75 mph in 65 mph zone instead of 70 mph in a 65 mph.
Funny thing here is both pleas have the same fine, surcharge, and points?

Judge wanted my client to have straight jail of one week versus two weekends.
Sometimes people want a different form (format) of the same thing.

Judge wanted my client to perform all his community service prior to sentencing.
Lack of trust sometimes makes judges want conditions met early.

Judge wanted my client to install his ignition interlock prior to sentencing.
Judge wanted my client to plea to at least one of the moving violations.
Judge would allow dismissal of the marijuana charge but no reduction of the speed charge.
Judge would allow dismissal of all (6) moving violations but wanted a CD (conditional discharge) on the disorderly conduct offense.
Judge wanted my client to report back to the Court after completion of each part of his CD.
In a DWI with road rage, Judge wanted completion of a defensive driving, and an anger management course.

BTW for the sake of safety and fairness, my disclaimer: prior client results don't in any way guarantee or promise future client results.

What Happens if YOU are unrepresented (you are your own attorney) and the deal goes SOUTH?

You will likely be dragged into Court multiple times or pushed to a trial or to just plead guilty to the offense. The hassle of all of it generally forces people to concede. It is just not worth the time and effort. It is most frustrating for lawyers, for lay people it is an exercise in futility. 

Always remember to consult with an attorney about any criminal or non-criminal charges you have pending to discuss your options and/or defenses.

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Chosen as a 2013 Rising Star in DWI/DUI in Upstate New York by Super Lawyers