Alabama criminal cases are routinely settled through plea bargain agreements. However, there is nothing routine about representing criminal defendants in these negotiations.
ConnectUS recently focused on some advantages and disadvantages to accepting a plea bargain. It is an interesting list because many of the prosecution advantages should be recognized by defense attorneys and used to the best advantage of their defendants.
The truth is that most criminal cases resolve without a trial. Without plea-bargaining the system would be hopelessly backlogged. Plea bargains reduce case loads, reduce congestion of trial schedules and eliminate uncertainty of outcomes.
A criminal defense lawyer in Birmingham can even tell how the state feels about its case by the kind of initial plea-bargain offer a prosecutor makes. Prosecutors like to brag about their high conviction rates. But that's primarily because they do not take losing cases into the courtroom. Thus, a seemingly good deal from prosecutors may signal to an experienced Alabama defense attorney that an even better deal (like dismissal of the charges) might be forthcoming with a little skill and patience.
Plea Bargain Negotiations in Alabama Criminal Cases
Proper representation of criminal defendants in plea bargain negotiations is critical because the vast majority of cases will not go to trial. The Atlantic recently reported 97 percent of federal cases, and a likely similar number of state cases, end in plea bargains.
The Atlantic reports that plea bargains were almost unheard of prior to the Civil War. The influx of defendants under Prohibition brought plea bargaining to the mainstream. By the end of the 1920s, more than 85 percent of cases in New York and Chicago were being resolved via plea bargains, and that trend has continued to this day.
Your choice of a defense attorney will have a significant impact on your case, regardless of whether you reach agreement with prosecutors or assert your right to defend against the charges at trial.
Hire an Alabama Criminal Defense Trial Lawyer
A growing number of critics are pointing out that reliance upon plea bargaining denies a substantial number of defendants of their constitutional right to a trial by peers, and increases the risk of convicting the innocent. Additionally, defendants who know they are likely to receive a plea bargain from prosecutors may be less focused on the quality of their criminal defense.
However, having an experienced trial lawyer will likely increase the likelihood of obtaining a deal most favorable to a defendant. Prosecutors know who has the knowledge, experience and ability to take a case to trial and win, and who is likely to make a deal and run.
Your defense attorney must also carefully review a deal with prosecutors and make sure the state holds up to its end of the bargain. Even a well-crafted plea bargain will have consequences, including an inability to appeal conviction.
Alabama Rules of Criminal Procedure Rule 14 governs arraignments and plea negotiations and agreements, but nothing beats the experienced of a seasoned criminal defense attorney when it comes to obtaining the best deal possible from the state. If you're facing criminal charges in Alabama, contact Barclay Law LLC. We'll fight for you every step of the way.