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Resolving Baton Rouge criminal cases through plea bargaining

Plea deals can benefit a Baton Rouge defendant and expedite the legal process. Courts are not bogged down by expensive trials. Prosecutors' efforts can be directed to the most serious cases.

Louisiana defendants are spared the stress, public exposure and added expense of a trial through plea negotiations. A brokered outcome is appealing for both sides. After all, no one knows in advance what decision a jury will make.

A plea deal is an agreement between the defendant and prosecutors, negotiated with the assistance of a criminal defense attorney. Typically, a defendant agrees to enter a guilty plea in exchange for a modification of criminal charges or a sentence, subject to jurisdictional restrictions. It's estimated plea deals are solutions for all but about 10 percent of criminal cases.

Prosecutors can promise to recommend a charge dismissal or reduction or lesser sentence, but in most cases, cannot guarantee a judge will be of the same opinion. For the most part, the judge has the last say.

The feelings of the remaining party or parties in the legal equation – the alleged victim or relatives of an alleged victim – may be considered in the plea deal. Statutes in some jurisdictions heavily support the rights of victims to participate in plea bargaining. However, a plea deal is not the sole alternative to a jury trial.

Defendants charged with some alcohol or drug-related crimes – usually first-time offenders -- may be candidates for diversion programs. Criminal charges can be dropped with the successful completion of a series of conditions, which frequently include mandatory substance abuse evaluation and treatment, counseling, education and restitution. Fulfillment of these terms during the probationary period can clear a criminal record.

An attorney can explain whether a plea deal or other form of case resolution is an option. A criminal defense lawyer will view these choices keeping your best interests in mind.

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