Often people are unsure exactly why they should hire a lawyer in a criminal matter rather than have a public defender or just represent themselves. However, people who show up to Court unrepresented or without a committed advocate are really missing out on a lot of opportunities that may be available to them. For example, in Michigan you may have the option to plead guilty under what is called a Cobb’s Agreement. This means that in exchange for a guilty plea, the Judge agrees to sentence you within some range, usually much lower than what you would otherwise be facing. Cobb’s agreements can be a win-win since the Court doesn’t want to waste its time doing your trial, you want to save money, and can be assured a good result.
If you think a Cobb’s Agreement might be right for you, it is important to hire an experienced criminal attorney in order to ensure you are getting exactly what you bargained for. While this and many options like this are available to those represented by court appointed attorneys and in pro per, it can be difficult to negotiate the complicated options that you are eligible for and how to best take advantage of them. Court appointed attorneys may do 15-20 hearings a morning, so they don’t have adequate time to consider the nuances of your case.
A plea bargain is an admission of guilt in exchange for a reduction in charges against you. For example, if you are charged with Retail Fraud 3rd degree, a 93 day misdemeanor with fines of up to $500 and/or three times the value of the stolen property, if you make a plea agreement you may be able to plead to a civil infraction which is punishable by just a fine. As a result you would not have any criminal record, supervision by the court, or any type of jail time or probation. This is just an example, not every crime or every retail fraud can be plead to a civil infraction. The basic idea is to plead to a lower level offense with fewer consequences that the original.
Why do plea agreements exist? If the state decided to take every criminal matter to trial they would have to hire hundreds more prosecutors to handle the volume of cases and trials are time consuming and costly. In order to promote efficiency and save money the prosecutor has a policy to plead some crimes down which usually only requires both parties to attend one or two hearings instead of a full trial. This saves both the prosecutor and you money and time.
Many people like plea agreements because they can resolve the legal matter quickly and get back to their lives.
Additionally, they don’t have to deal with the uncertainty of whether a judge or jury will find in their favor. However, it is very important to understand that by pleading guilty you waive any opportunity to prove your innocence and if you are pleading to a lesser crime or other offense that abstracts it will be on your record. It is important to consult with an attorney to see if the benefits of entering into a plea agreement outweigh the risks in your unique case. Additionally, many times prosecutors are much more open to negotiation with attorneys than people representing themselves because Prosecutors know they will have to do a lot more work to try you if you have someone who knows how the legal system works to protect your rights.
Our attorneys are regulars at metro Detroit courts. We know the judges, prosecutors and city attorneys who will be assigned to your case. We can put this experience to work for you and attempt to negotiate a plea agreement on your behalf with the result of getting your charges reduced, modified, or even dismissed.
To retain Garmo & Kiste, PLC call us at (248) 398-7100 for a free consultation or contact us with a private message.