The vast majority of criminal cases are resolved without going to trial by defendants pleading guilty. Most pleas are a result of negotiations between the prosecutor, the defendant, and/or the defense attorney.
A plea negotiation usually involves a specific sentence recommendation or dismissal of certain charges by the state in exchange for a guilty plea from the defendant on specific charges.
Every case handled by the District Attorney’s Office is taken on a case-by-case basis, which means there is not a “one size fits all” type of approach. The DA’s Office does not have specific formulas on how every type of charge is handled. Different cases with different defendants, facts, and criminal histories will result in a different recommendation.
Important Information For Victims
If you are a victim, we will make every attempt to discuss a potential plea agreement with you before the plea is presented to the court. Your opinion is very important to us, so it is important that you advise this office of any changes in your contact information. Good communication is always helpful to the process and key to ensuring that we can speak for you in the criminal justice system.
Please be aware that there are times when we may proceed with a plea negotiation even if you do not agree with our rationale. You always have the right to address your concerns directly to the judge and the judge may decide not to accept the negotiated plea, asking both parties to continue negotiations or to proceed with trial. The prosecutor is ethically bound to act in the interests of justice as opposed to merely getting guilty verdicts.
Purpose of Plea Agreements
Plea agreements can be very helpful to victims because:
- They assure a conviction for a crime without putting victims and witnesses through the inconvenience and trauma of going to trial in exchange for the defendant taking responsibility for his or her action.
- They eliminate the risk that the defendant may not be held accountable due to a court finding of not guilty.
- They enable the state to prosecute many more cases than we could without them and help prevent huge backlogs of cases.