99.9% of the time, yes. It would be extremely rare for someone to get a plea agreement after the jury had found them guilty.
I once handled a case in which I represented a client who had been charged with aggravated assaults. I was able to get her a plea agreement for around 8 months in prison plus probation, but she did not want that plea agreement so she decided to fire me and hire another law firm. That law firm took her to trial and she was convicted so she was looking at 3.5 to 15 years in prison.
The prosecutor was very reasonable and understood that the client was mislead by this new law firm and that they had told her she had a great case and that she should not take the plea agreement that I had been able to arrange for her.
Even though she was convicted and the jury found that it was a dangerous offence where she was looking at 3 and a half to 15 years in prison, the prosecutor nonetheless decided to allow her to enter into a plea agreement after the conviction which was for 1 year in prison instead of the 8 months that I had been able to negotiate for her pre trial.
She was able to take the plea agreement for 1 year in prison instead of looking at the 3 and a half to 15 years in prison that she was going to get because she was convicted by a jury. This was an extraordinarily rare situation and something the prosecutor did not need to do.
The prosecutor had seen what had taken place and actually demanded that in order for the client to get the benefit of this plea agreement, they would have to state on the record that she apologized to me and that I had provided her with excellent representation.
This was a nice gesture but people cannot be forced to say something nice, so although I did not need that to be a part of the plea agreement, it goes down the path of there being a lot of lawyers out there who feed people a lot of lies to convince them to go to trial. They tell people they have good cases and tell them they are going to win but when things do not go the way the lawyer says, then the lawyer would have a smile on their face because they have the client’s money but the client would be the one who ended up getting years in prison.
I have seen it happen so many times because there are so many lawyers that just feed their clients lies to get them to pay them more money and it is really horrible. This is why I did start the [inaudible 0:16:56.9] on the DUI team to give people honest and good representation at an affordable price.
If Someone Is Found Guilty, Is The Punishment Typically Worse Than The Plea Deal?
The plea agreement would normally be a set amount of time and it would usually be a certain number of days. If someone went to a trial and were convicted, then the judge would have the complete open range to determine what would be an appropriate sentence. For example, the range of sentence for a first time regular DUI would be anywhere from 1 day in jail to up to 6 months of jail.
For someone who went to a trial and was convicted, the judge would have an entire sentencing range to decide on what would be an appropriate sentence. That being said, I have rarely heard of any judge doing what I call a “Trial Tax”. This basically means the judge would sentence the people to a harsher sentence because they decided to go to trial.
This does happen on occasion, so sometimes people do get punished for going to trial. Often times if I go to trial and if my client is convicted, I would be able to arrange for a plea agreement that would usually be the minimum sentence. In some cases it would be the same as the plea offer, whereas in some cases it would be better than a plea offer. It would just depend on the outcome at the trial.
I think if someone goes to trial and the judge can see that there actually is an issue that the person is fighting for, instead of simply wasting everyone’s time, then in that case the person would be more likely to get the benefit at sentencing as opposed to if the judge literally saw the person doing nothing and not arguing any specific point and they were just making the prosecutor prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. In this case the judge may end up giving a longer sentence all the way up to the maximum sentence.
How Important Would It Be For Someone To Know All Of Their Options?
As part of our job representing clients, we are supposed to let them know our honest opinions and give them their options so they can make an informed decision.
In a lot of these other firms, the practice of law has turned into seeing how much money they could take from the clients and after taking their money, what options the lawyer would need to withdraw off their case so they would not need to do any work.
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