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A Review of Plea Bargaining in Criminal Cases

Updated: May 26, 2023 @ 2:24 am

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If you’re facing criminal charges in Angleton, Houston, or elsewhere in Texas, there are various options at your disposal to get things resolved. One of these options is plea bargaining.

At the Law Office of Sandra J. Oballe, we’re not advocates of initiating plea deals. However, in some cases, it’s the best option.

Although your legal options following criminal charges may seem confusing, we’re here to help you make sense of them. As your attorney, my job is to help you understand your options to resolve your case.

Whether your case falls within the jurisdiction of Harris County or Brazoria County, we’re committed to protecting your rights. If you have any questions, contact Attorney Sandra Oballe at 979-265-6800 or 713-524-6656. We provide free consultations and affordable, flexible payment options.

Plea Bargains Explained

In the most basic sense, a plea bargain is a compromise between you and the state.

Plea bargaining is a negotiation between the defendant (you) and the prosecution.

Most of the time it goes like this; you agree to plead guilty to a less severe charge, or in some cases, one of multiple charges, in exchange for a lighter sentence or the dismissal of other charges.

The outcome of a plea bargain can often result in a reduced punishment and may help avoid the uncertainties of a trial. However, it’s important to remember that plea bargaining is not always the best course of action. Taking this route must be considered carefully with the advice of an attorney. If you have questions or need advice, call us.

The Plea Bargaining Process in Texas

In Texas, plea agreements are a mainstay of our criminal justice system. Courts view plea deals as an efficient way to resolve cases. Plea bargains also cut down on court costs, and help to manage crowded court dockets. However, the plea bargain process should be approached with careful oversight under the guidance of an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Pleading in criminal cases is covered under Title 1, Chapter 27 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.

Early Stages

After you’re formally charged with a crime you’ll get a court date. Then, the plea bargaining process can commence.

Sometimes, based on the circumstances of your case, we may conclude that a plea bargain is best for you. If this is the case, we’ll approach the prosecutor with the goal of reaching an agreement.

However, if the District Attorney’s office has a weak case, they may approach us to cut a deal. (If this happens, and we can spot the weakness in their case, we could threaten to take your case to trial. This move could lead to the state dismissing your case.)

Prior to giving you any advice on which way to go, we’ll review the evidence against you. During this analysis, we’ll consider the strengths of your case, and evaluate the potential outcomes. Once we’ve done our homework, we’ll pursue negotiations.

Negotiating with the State

This part of the process involves negotiations between us and the prosecutor that’s representing the State of Texas. Our objective is to convince the prosecution to reduce the severity of your charges or decrease the penalty.

These discussions can be influenced by several factors, such as the seriousness of the charges and the strength of the evidence. If you have a criminal history, it could also be a factor.

Finalizing the Agreement

If a plea deal is reached, it must be approved by the judge presiding over the case.

Although Brazoria County & Harris County judges usually accept plea agreements, they’re not under any obligation to approve the deal. Before making a decision, they’ll consider the terms of the deal, the crime, your character, and any criminal record you may have.

Non-Plea Deal Options

Plea bargaining isn’t your only option. It’s one of many strategies we may review. Our other options are going to trial or entering a plea of No-Contest.

Going to Trial

Choosing to take your case to trial is your right under the Constitution of the United States. Sometimes, going to trial is the most viable option – especially when we’ve developed a solid defense strategy.

However, trials & jurors are unpredictable. A criminal conviction at trial can mean severe consequences for folks charged with some felony offenses.

The “No Contest” Plea

A “no contest” plea, or “nolo contendere,” means that you don’t admit guilt, but you do not dispute the charges either. It’s similar to a guilty plea in terms of sentencing, but it cannot be used as an admission of guilt if a civil lawsuit follows the criminal charges.

When Plea Bargaining Makes Sense

Depending on your case, deciding whether to pursue a plea bargain can be a tough call.

For less serious charges, such as a first-time DWI offense, domestic violence, or misdemeanor marijuana possession case, a plea bargain may be the way to go. Usually, it means no jail time, deferred adjudication, and reduced penalties.

(If you complete the requirements of the court agreement and depending on the case, you could potentially get the conviction & arrest record sealed.)

If the evidence against you is substantial and a conviction seems likely, negotiating a plea deal is always a smart, strategic move.

Weighed Down By Criminal Charges?

Call Attorney Sandra J. Oballe Today.

Our law firm represents people who live and work in Houston, Pearland, Angleton, Brazoria, and Harris County. If you or a loved one have criminal charges and an upcoming court date, you’ll need an aggressive criminal defense attorney that’s committed to winning.

Dealing with the reality of criminal charges and subsequent prosecution is an overwhelming experience for most of our clients. However, there’s no need to have fear with our seasoned legal team by your side.

Don’t panic or make any rash moves until you speak with an attorney.

The Law Office of Sandra J. Oballe has provided sound legal advice and excellent legal representation to Texans since 2003.

Law Office of Sandra J. Oballe

To contact Attorney Sandra Oballe, call us here at the Law Office of Sandra J. Oballe at 979-265-6800 or 713-524-6656. We provide 100% free initial consultations, representation on felonies & misdemeanors, affordable legal fees, and superior legal representation.

Law Office of Sandra J. Oballe

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