When a California resident is accused of being involved in a serious crime, they may face a court trial that could take years. If the prosecution has strong evidence, and it is likely that the accused person may be found guilty, the accused person and their defense team may have the ability to negotiate a plea bargain. While plea bargains can reduce the severity of certain charges and the associated punishments, plea bargains have certain restrictions.
There are certain guidelines that must be followed when a plea bargain is being negotiated. For example, the punishment must still be reasonable given the accusations and reflect the severity of the crime. Some charges can potentially be dismissed; however, the assistant attorney general must give approval.
Additionally, some charges carry mandatory sentences. For example, if a person agrees to plead guilty to charges that include a mandatory prison sentence of at least one year to five years, they will be required to spend at least one year in prison. However, if the accused person agrees to a plea deal, they may be sentenced to one to two years in prison instead of the maximum.
Even though a person may still be facing punishments, negotiating a plea deal in certain situations can be advantageous, especially if the prosecution has strong evidence against the accused person. A criminal defense attorney may help the accused person understand the limitations and restrictions should they consider negotiating with the prosecution. Additionally, the attorney may also assist with seeking less severe punishments depending on the severity of the charges. They may also assist with seeking to have certain charges dismissed or reduced to reduce the severity of potential punishments even further.