There’s no doubt about it – facing criminal charges in Hamilton County, Ohio, is scary.
As the accused, you have to weigh your options and decide if your case is worth taking to trial. However, Ohio criminal law allows for alternatives, like a plea agreement, which can be appealing for the prosecution and yourself.
What Is a Plea Bargain in Ohio?
A plea bargain is a negotiation process between the defense and the prosecution about charges and sentencing.
The idea is that you will plead guilty in exchange for a favorable sentence. When this happens, there is no need for the prosecution to move forward with your case or coordinate a lengthy trial. This saves the state time, money, and resources.
Many see plea agreements as a way to resolve these cases fast with less severe penalties. And while this is generally true, they still may result in criminal convictions. Since many do not understand the process, defendants may hastily agree to a plea without serious consideration.
Common Types of Plea Agreements
There are multiple types of plea agreements you may be able to work out with the prosecutor. They can be classified as:
- Charge bargaining – you agree to plead guilty to a lesser offense
- Count/charge bargaining – you agree to plead guilty to one or more lesser charges while the prosecutor agrees to dismiss the more serious offenses
- Fact bargaining – you will plead guilty and admit to specific facts or truths in exchange for the prosecutor not introducing facts or truths that could lead to a guilty verdict
- Sentence bargaining – you agreed to accept a lighter sentence than you would have received if you had been convicted of the original offense
How Do Plea Bargains Work in Cincinnati, Ohio?
In many instances, cases can be resolved quickly through plea bargaining, and the person charged does not have to endure an uncertain and lengthy trial.
But how does a plea agreement work? The proposal typically includes one of or a combination of:
- The defendant pleading guilty to a lesser charge
- The defendant pleading to only one or to fewer charges
- The defendant pleading to the offense, with the prosecutor recommending a lenient sentence
In many cases, a plea bargain requires the approval of the court. For example, if the defendant is to plead guilty in exchange for a lesser sentence, the court can reject the prosecution’s recommendation. On the other hand, the prosecutor is vested with the authority to drop charges and substitute them for lesser charges.
Although every plea agreement is different, the Ohio Judicial System must approve the plea agreement before it can be considered official and legally binding. In court, the judge will ensure that you understand your plea agreement, enter it voluntarily, and know your responsibilities once the plea agreement goes into effect.
How to Obtain a Plea Bargain in Ohio
If you hope to obtain a plea agreement with the prosecutor, you must be prepared to work with the state. The prosecutor could agree to offer you a plea bargain shortly after you have been arrested, in the middle of your trial, or at any point before a verdict is rendered.
If you are interested in working out a plea agreement, you can do so by discussing potential terms and options with your criminal defense attorney and whether bringing your case to trial could be in your best interests.
What to Consider When Accepting a Plea Deal
A plea deal might seem very attractive, considering the maximum possible sentence you might face if found guilty.
Many defendants sometimes too eagerly accept plea deals without considering the following:
- Jail time is still jail time. Although plea bargains result in lesser sentencing, you may be unable to avoid time behind bars. There are grave consequences to going to jail, and you must prepare yourself mentally and financially.
- You may not be able to change your mind. Most plea bargains negotiations will include a waiver of your rights to appeal. Accordingly, a change of mind later or even the unearthing of new evidence will not help if you agree to a plea bargain.
- Post-conviction consequences. Once you do time for the crime, consequences still linger after your conviction. Once released, you could face limited employment opportunities, restricted access to educational institutions, and a lack of voting rights.
The decision to accept a plea bargain is a big one. There is no room for error, ignorance, or a change of mind. It is critical that you discuss your options with your attorney before pleading guilty.
A Cincinnati Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help Negotiate a Plea
If you go to obtain the strongest plea bargain a prosecutor can offer based on the charges you are facing, having an experienced criminal defender by your side is essential. Your attorney may have an established professional relationship with the prosecutor and be able to secure a favorable outcome in your case.
If we can secure a plea agreement that is in your best interests, we will do so. However, if it could be more appropriate to instead fight for your freedom at trial, we will advise you accordingly. Make sure you understand your rights and plea bargain actions by contacting an experienced criminal defense attorney in Cincinnati for help.
How Cincinnati Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help You
As a criminal defense lawyer with a wealth of experience handling plea negotiation, Brad Groene is on your side. He will guide you through the Cincinnati criminal law process and get you the legal representation you need.
A conviction can have severe consequences for your future. Before you decide on a plea bargain in Ohio, you should speak to a lawyer at Luftman, Heck & Associates, who will provide sound legal advice. Call (513) 338-1890 now or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.