In May 2014, an Amarillo resident was sentenced to serve 40 years in a Texas state prison after he was found guilty of possession of a controlled substance. The lengthy sentence was due in great part to the suspect’s considerable criminal background in manufacturing and delivering methamphetamine, and also because the defendant turned down a plea bargain opportunity.
In certain situations, criminal offenses in Texas can be negotiated or bargained down to a level that improves the outcome of the case for all parties involved. The act of negotiating with the prosecutors or law enforcement agents is often called a plea bargain since it frequently involves entering a plea in exchange for reduced penalties.
Plea bargains in cases involving possession of a controlled substance are becoming increasingly common due to the following judicial factors:
- Prison overcrowding
- Strained correctional budgets
- Changing attitudes towards drug offenders
The rules of criminal procedure in Texas allow plea bargains to take place in some cases, and criminal defense attorneys may use different strategies to obtain a positive outcome for their clients.
When Should a Plea Bargain be Considered?
Once criminal charges have been filed against a defendant, defense attorneys take a good look at the case and will try to determine the most immediate beneficial outcome. In the early stages of the process, the ideal result would be to convince the prosecution or the court to drop the charges and dismiss the case.
Many legal observers lament the fact that many drug possession cases end up in a plea bargain, which gives the impression that the court system is unfairly stacked against defendants. This is not necessarily the case. Prosecutors who are blindly focused on getting defendants to enter guilty pleas for statistical benefit may be more willing to consider negotiation terms such as waiving a jail sentence.
In recent years, special drug courts that focus on treatment at the community level have emerged as an alternative for defendants charged with possession. Prosecutors frequently offer this as an option, but not all defendants may benefit from such program. The most effective plea bargain strategies are those that reduce felony offenses down to misdemeanors or that bring about the dismissal of some charges in exchange for pleading guilty to lesser ones.
Prosecutors will rarely accept Alford or no-contest pleas from defendants as part of the negotiation process. Defendants must pay attention to everything their attorneys tell them with regard to quality of life after entering a guilty plea. Foreigners may see their immigration status negatively affected, and those who plan to seal their records later in life may not be able to do so. Losing the right to file an appeal is something that may not sit well with all defendants.
Craft a Custom Bargaining Strategy
Bargaining within the legal realm is difficult to do without an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. However, with an attorney you may be able to avoid getting a felony or other serious charge. Allow Matthew D. Sharp to prepare your case. Schedule a free case evaluation by calling 713-868-6100.
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