In Larimer, Boulder and Grand County, the plea bargain discussion usually occurs between a criminal defense attorney and the district attorney. This is a back and forth exhaustive conversation where the type of plea, type and length of incarceration or probation, and amount of restitution is deliberated. An experienced criminal defense lawyer is able to argue for a fair plea bargain and convince the district attorney to offer a reasonable sentence option.
Why Should Someone Consider Taking a Plea Bargain?
Plea bargains hold value for both sides in the criminal justice system. It is expensive and time consuming to take a case to trial. If every case went to trial, the court dockets would be overloaded and judges and district attorneys would be extremely overwhelmed. On the other side, the defendant knows if their case does not look good for trial, it is best to take a plea offer. Sometimes, defendants are tempted to take their case to trial because they know they are innocent, even if they understand the outcome doesn’t look good. While this is a noble stance, the false testimony of a victim or witness can land an innocent person with a jury trial conviction. Most of the time, we see good people admit they made a mistake, understand there are penalties and hire the best criminal defense attorneys to help minimize the consequences.
What are Common Plea Bargain Conditions?
A knowledgeable Fort Collins criminal defense lawyer and a district attorney will discuss all the terms of a potential plea bargain. These terms include (but are not limited to):
- What crime the defendant will plead to
- Whether the sentence will include a term of incarceration
- If the time is served in Larimer County Jail, the Department of Corrections, or community corrections (the half-way house)
- How long the incarceration term will be
- Whether the sentence will include probation
- Intensive supervised probation (ISP), standard supervision, or unsupervised probation
- How long the probation period will be
- How much restitution, court costs, and fine will be
- Whether the sentence will include monitoring and for how long
- GPS monitoring, SCRAM unit monitoring, or in-home detention
- Whether alcohol and drug monitoring will be required
- UA (Urine Analysis) – pee tests or BA (Breath Analysis) – breathalyzer tests
- Whether counseling or treatment will be required
- Sex offender treatment, domestic violence treatment, anger management, making good choice class, Alcohol classes, Drug Treatment
- If protection / restraining orders will be entered
- Whether other restrictions will be required
- Jobs the defendant is and is not allowed to have
- Whether the defendant can have contact with kids / minors
- Places the defendant is prohibited from being
All these terms and conditions are up for discussion when plea bargaining.
What are the Limitations for Plea Bargains?
Sometimes, with certain crimes and charges, there are requirements of the law which limit an attorney’s ability to modify the terms. For example, certain crimes, like Kidnapping, require a prison sentence. In these cases, a skilled defense attorney will propose the defendant plead to another charge, which is similar, but not under the same limitations. For sex related cases, like Sexual Assault or Incest, it is not likely a non-sex plea will be an option. The law has limited district attorneys in plea bargaining sex offenses down to non-sexual pleas. This limitation also applies to plea bargaining alcohol related driving offenses down to non-alcohol pleas.
Do Victims Play a Part in Plea Bargaining in Fort Collins?
In Fort Collins, Loveland, and Estes Park, district attorneys are required to keep victims informed on the progress of a case. It is much more likely district attorneys and judges will be on board with a possible plea bargain if the victim agrees to it. District attorneys worry about their job, and don’t want any complaints from alleged victims if they disagree or object to a potential plea bargain. The qualified attorneys from the O’Malley Law Office understand the criminal justice system and the motivations behind why a plea bargain may or may not be possible. We work tirelessly to protect you, your family, and your future.