Taking a Plea in Criminal Cases
Throughout the pretrial process, the State and defense will often negotiate a plea offer. It is always the defendant’s choice whether to accept, or even negotiate, a plea offer with the State. Fort Lauderdale Criminal Attorney Mark Lowry is a former prosecutor and experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you understand your charges and determine the best way to fight them, which may include discussing what the State is offering. Attorney Mark Lowry is ready to fight as hard as each client wants, and if you do not want to even consider a plea offer, then Mr. Lowry is happy and ready to go to trial for you. Contact the firm for a free consultation to discuss your case and ask questions today.
Often times, for first time offenders of misdemeanor and 3rd degree felony non-violent crimes, or crimes of violence that did not involve injury and the alleged victim is not seeking punishment, a program called pretrial intervention (PTI) may be available. These programs are created by each State attorney’s office, and may not be available in every Florida circuit. Each office decides their guidelines for who will be accepted and denied. After the arraignment, criminal attorney Mark Lowry would apply for the PTI program. If accepted, you would agree in writing to fulfill the conditions of PTI, which are similar to being on probation. You will be assigned a case officer and will have to typically perform community service hours and attend anti-crime classes. After a number of weeks, if all requirements were met, the charges are dropped.
If PTI is not available, then the State will generally make a plea offer. The offer will be based on the defendant’s prior history, the seriousness of the crime, and if there were any victims with injuries. If its a felony, the prosecutor will have a score sheet that uses a point value for every crime charged, and for each crime in your history, the higher points for the more serious charges. If the total is 44 or greater then the score sheet will have a minimum prison sentence of at least 366 days (1 year, 1 day). This can be waived and you can still receive less than the minimum if, for example, attorney Mark Lowry negotiates with the State a lesser sentence that may just be probation. A defendant can receive up to 5 years punishment (prison or probation or both) for a 3rd degree felony, up to 15 years for 2nd degree, and 30 years to life (or death) for a first degree felony.
If no agreement can be reached, and the defendant still wishes to keep his plea of not guilty, the case proceeds. After both parties have disclosed all their evidence to each other, and each had an opportunity to review the evidence thoroughly and depose, of necessary, all witnesses they choose, trial is the next stage.
If you or someone you love has been cited or arrested for anything, contact criminal attorney Mark Lowry immediately to help understand the criminal process and how to fight your charges. We offer affordable payment plans and 24 hour service 7 days a week.