How Does An Attorney Determine Whether A Plea Offer Is Viable Or Not?
When it comes to offers on cases of domestic violence, there are circumstances where after all has been said and done, my client still appears to be the person who’s been the aggressor, there is sufficient proof for the prosecutors to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, and the client did whatever they’re being accused of. I may oftentimes have them, from the outset, get involved in domestic violence counseling, anger management or alcohol classes or AA.
By taking responsibility for one’s actions, this can help the client when it comes to settling the case later on. As a parent and a husband, I understand the dynamics that affect a family’s life in a very stressful world, and that experience is beneficial to my client. It is not an admission of guilt to have my client attend counseling; it’s simply a way of addressing a problem and the root of a problem that, unfortunately, has a destructive and violent symptom. If we can address this on a personal level, then we should do so. If that, in turn, also helps my client’s case, then we’ll present it. I’ll use that when I bring it to the table to talk to prosecutors and show that this person is taking responsibility and is dealing with it.
Notwithstanding all of those things, I still want to try and find a way to get the case dismissed at the end of the day. So while my client is doing those things, I am still trying to aggressively defend him; and if we’ve got a circumstance where perhaps my client’s finished those programs and earns a dismissal over a longer period of time while the prosecutors consider whether or not they should convict, then we can do that. That’s something called deferred entry of judgment or diversion, and those are things that can be worked out with prosecutors and/or judges at the time while the case is pending in court.
This has become much more difficult to structure nowadays simply because of the unfortunate circumstances that some prosecuting agencies and judges have been put in where they do give people a chance, but unfortunately, down the road, the violence continues. So prosecuting agencies and judges have become much more reluctant to give people those types of opportunities, but I get very involved in my cases. I stay very involved with my clients and try to guide them. I take the term “counselor” very seriously. So if we can work out those types of circumstances, I will.
In domestic violence cases, it can be very useful to enroll in anger management or domestic violence classes from the outset, depending on how serious the case is and the prosecutors’ proof. When it comes to sex crimes, there may be circumstances where my clients go through programs to address some of the motivating factors that are contributory to those types of circumstances. Often times there is chemical dependency and abuse of drugs or alcohol. I may have clients involved in live-in rehabilitation facilities to address any underlying drug or abuse problems, so there are a lot of different things we can do at the beginning and then try to negotiate with the prosecutors.
There may be collateral issues that contribute to us gaining those types of ultimate results, such as work-related or familial issues, if the clients are being proactive about those things. Unfortunately, I have handled too many cases where the initial attorneys were not active enough with the clients, when the case is now halfway through the criminal court process and I’m being brought in later in the game with the deck stacked against us, that could have been handled much differently and maybe in a very, very different political posture and procedural posture than they currently are. So getting involved early is important and vital to a good outcome – it may be months before that is realized, but that is where my expertise as a criminal defense attorney comes into play.
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