If you have been charged with a criminal offense in the State of Nebraska, the most important step you can take to protect yourself and your future is to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney. At some point, usually early on, the prosecuting attorney will probably offer you a plea agreement that requires you to plead guilty in exchange for an agreed upon sentence. If the agreement you are offered does not require you to spend any time in prison, and you di actually commit the crime for which you are charged, you may expect your lawyer to recommend accepting the plea agreement. If your attorney does not recommend that you take the plea deal it may leave you wondering “Why would criminal attorneys discourage a client from accepting a probation plea?”
Criminal Law Basics
First, it helps to put the issue in context. When you are accused of a crime, your first appearance in court is referred to as your initial appearance or arraignment. At that time, the judge will make sure you understand the charges against you and that you know your rights. The issue of counsel and bail may also be discussed; however, as a general rule, not much else happens at that time. Not long after your initial appearance, the State will begin the discovery process. “Discovery” refers to the State’s legal obligation to turn over evidence it plans to use against you at trial to your defense counsel. This is typically when the real investigating, negotiating, and building of your defense happens. Sometimes, however, a prosecutor will offer a defendant a guilty plea agreement early on in the process. Occasionally, a plea agreement is even offered at the first appearance. A plea agreement requires the defendant to accept guilt, therefore concluding the case once the agreement has been accepted by the judge.
Reasons Criminal Attorneys Might Not Recommend Accepting a Plea Agreement
If the prosecuting attorney offers you a guilty plea agreement that ensures you a probation only sentence, your first reaction may be to jump at the chance to accept the agreement if you are guilty. After all, why risk going back to jail, right? If your criminal defense attorney doesn’t have the same reaction, you will likely be wondering why that is. One way to answer that question is to ask yourself why the prosecuting attorney is so quick to offer you such a great deal? If you did, in fact, commit the crime, why isn’t the prosecuting attorney pushing for a harsher sentence? The answer is often found in the evidence, or lack thereof. All too often, when a prosecuting attorney offers a defendant a guilty plea agreement that seems too good to be true, the reason behind the offer boils down to the fact that the State is worried it cannot secure a conviction. Maybe the investigation was tainted by an illegal search and seizure. Maybe a witness recanted. Maybe evidence was lost. Whatever the exact reason it, it probably amounts to the prosecutor preferring to get a conviction as quickly as possible rather than risk taking a case to trial that he/she cannot win. Although most defendants do not know that this is the reason behind that great probation only offer, criminal attorneys know it.
The other common reason why your criminal defense attorney may discourage you from accepting a probation only plea agreement is if your lawyer believes the agreement is setting you up to fail. The rules and requirements of probation are difficult for even the most law-abiding citizen to navigate successfully for a short period of time. Very few people can successfully finish years of probation. If you have been in trouble with the law before, your attorney knows that a few months is probably the longest you will make it on probation and if you violate, you have a lengthy sentence of imprisonment hanging over your head. Sometimes, it is better to agree to a short period of time in jail now than to end up spending a year (or more) in prison down the road because you violated your probation. Ultimately, the decision is yours to make; however, your attorney is trying to help you by discouraging you from taking a plea agreement that will probably not end up the way you intended.
Contact Criminal Attorneys at Petersen Law Office
If you have been charged with a criminal offense in the State of Nebraska, consult with an experienced Omaha criminal attorney as soon as possible to ensure that your rights are protected. In Nebraska contact Petersen Criminal Defense Law 24 hours a day at 402-509-8070 to discuss your case.