Understanding Plea Bargains in Domestic Violence Cases: Pros, Cons, and Legal Considerations

Domestic violence charges are severe and can come with life-altering consequences depending on the details of the case. They can range from misdemeanor cases to severe felony cases with mandatory prison, depending on the allegations. Denver, CO, takes these cases very seriously, so you will need to know what your options are. One of the many options you may have when facing domestic violence charges is taking a plea bargain.

Getting the help of a criminal defense attorney will be crucial when weighing the pros and cons of accepting a plea bargain. A violent crimes attorney can help you understand the repercussions of this option and if it is in your best interest.

What Are Plea Bargains?

A plea bargain is an agreement that is reached between the prosecutor and the defendant in a criminal case, including domestic violence cases. This is when the prosecutor allows the defendant to potentially avoid a conviction with an ultimate dismissal, plead guilty to a lesser charge, or in very serious cases, plead to the original charge, but with reduced consequences.

Examples of plea bargains include potentially having a case dismissed, avoiding a permanent conviction on a person’s record, pleading guilty to a lesser charge, reducing a felony to a misdemeanor, or, in very serious cases, pleading guilty to a reduced jail sentence. Overall, the purpose of a plea bargain is to benefit both parties by speeding up the process and providing a lesser sentence.

After a plea bargain is agreed upon, a sentencing hearing will take place. This is when a Colorado judge will ask a defendant questions to ensure they understand what the plea deal entails and are making this decision knowingly and voluntarily. This is an integral part of the process, as a defendant has to waive constitutional rights, including a trial, for the plea deal to be accepted.

Types of Plea Bargains

If accepting a plea bargain is something that is on the table for your domestic violence case, you need to understand the options you have. Aside from an agreement to dismiss at some point, there are three different types of plea bargains a defense attorney and a prosecutor may agree to, depending on their goals and the details of the case.

  • Charge bargaining: This is when you plead guilty to a lesser charge, which can be a good option if there is a lot of evidence against you. Charge bargaining can help you choose a charge that has less jail time or a smaller impact on your criminal history record.
  • Sentence bargaining: This is when the prosecutor allows you to plead guilty to the original offense with the purpose of getting a lighter sentence. Sentence bargaining is another good option if there is a lot of evidence against you.
  • Fact bargaining: This is a less common option where the defendant agrees to stipulate specific facts to get other facts omitted from the case. Going this route can help you get a lesser sentence by emitting more serious types of evidence.

When Are Plea Bargains Used?

Although plea bargains in Denver, CO, are common, they are not offered in all criminal cases. Whether or not a plea deal is provided is ultimately up to the prosecutor. However, a good criminal defense attorney can negotiate with the prosecutor, discussing information like the facts, evidence, the law, defenses to the charges, mitigating information, and the character of the defendant. Although a prosecutor may formulate an initial opinion based on the police reports, a good criminal defense attorney can sway the prosecutor into looking further into the case and even point out various defenses and weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case.

Plea bargains are often provided to alleviate some of the burden on the court system and reduce the time and expense of going to trial, including the possibility the defendant is found not guilty. Plea bargaining can also be a good option for cases that are not incredibly serious or that do not have a significant amount of evidence against the defendant, which can lead to a dismissal.

Plea Bargain Pros

Although plea bargaining is something that many may want to avoid if they believe they can win at trial, it is a very good option in many situations. Here are some of the benefits of accepting a plea bargain for a Denver, CO, domestic violence case:

  • Takes away the uncertainty of a criminal trial;
  • Helps avoid the maximum sentence;
  • Speeds up the legal process, including sentencing;
  • Provides the defendant with freedom of choice in their case;
  • Avoids an embarrassing public trial, where the public can attend and even attend virtually from their home;
  • It can result in consequences that have less of a long-term impact;
  • Some plea bargains can result in a dismissal, avoiding a permanent conviction,reducing changes, removing the potential for jail time, or reducing jail time in more serious cases, reduce fines; and,
  • and also such things as losing rights such as voting or owning firearms, being denied employment and housing by getting a dismissal, or reducing the actual charges.

Plea Bargain Cons

Any option you accept in a domestic violence case in Denver, CO, is going to come with some drawbacks and legal repercussions. That is why it is crucial that you also understand some of the reasons why plea bargains may not be the best fit for your case.

  • This can result in an unfair sentence if the defendant is innocent;
  • The defendant not being able to present evidence to show their innocence or defenses they may have had like self-defense and defenses or property;
  • Takes away the potential opportunity for getting the case dismissed or getting a much lesser sentence;
  • This could result in the defendant regretting not going to court in front of a jury; and,
  • Takes essential evidence for the defendant off the table.

Why a Denver Violent Crimes Attorney is Important For Domestic Violence Cases

Hiring a domestic violence attorney is a crucial part of preparing for a domestic violence case in Denver, CO. You never want to try to represent yourself since you do not have the experience and the resources that an attorney has.

Aside from all of the things a criminal defense attorney does for your case, they can also help you decide if a plea bargain is right for you. An attorney can analyze the details of the case, including the likelihood of winning at trial, mitigating evidence, defenses, potential sentences of going to trial or accepting a plea bargain, and any evidence in your favor or against you. They can then guide you on the best option to get your desired outcome.

Sometimes, plea bargains are provided if the prosecutor has concerns about proving the defendant is guilty by a reasonable doubt to a judge or a jury, also allowing the defendant to avoid the risk of a judge or jury finding the defendant guilty. An attorney can also help you decide if the details of the plea bargain are fair and benefit you or if additional negotiation will get the defendant in a better position, i.e., negotiating various details in a plea agreement like the charge being plead to, fines, useful public service, and classes.

Hire a highly qualified Criminal Defense Attorney from the Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC, to ensure you have the best criminal defense available.

Facing domestic violence charges is a very overwhelming process, and it can be hard to know what options you have available. In some situations, accepting a plea bargain can be the best-case scenario. A violent crimes lawyer can help you navigate this complex legal process to get the best outcome.

At The Law Offices of Clifton Black, our violent crimes lawyers are dedicated to protecting the rights of all our clients. For the best in legal defense for domestic cases, contact us today at 719-328-1616 for a consultation with one of our Denver violent crimes attorneys.

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