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Video – Attorney Spencer Freeman Answers If A Criminal Defendant Can Get A Great Deal From Plea Bargaining, Or Just A Little Better Than A Trial Verdict?

Video – Attorney Spencer Freeman Answers If A Criminal Defendant Can Get A Great Deal From Plea Bargaining, Or Just A Little Better Than A Trial Verdict?

Ray Hrdlicka – Host – Attorneys.Media

“I guess a question that the family and the defendant would want to know …. In terms of plea bargaining, ‘do I just get a little bit of a deal, or can I get a great deal? Is it somewhere in-between?’ That’s one of the questions they’re going to say. ‘What should I expect?’ And I know it such a general question. I hate to use this analogy, but it’s like somebody buying a product that’s on sale. 10% on sale is not that good a deal, but 30% off is a much better deal. And I know that it’s going to be hard to put in context, but I’ll bet…and I’ve been asked that question… by a cosigner on a bail bond, by the family members, by the defendant. They say, ‘well, that’s not good enough of a deal for me. I want more’.”

Spencer Freeman – Criminal Defense Attorney – Pierce County, WA

“Sure. It’s an almost impossible question to answer in the way that it’s asked. Well, it’s a good question, but also a difficult question. There’s no way to say this particular….in general, criminal defendants can expect by way of plea bargaining. It’s also hard to say, at least at the beginning of a case, in an individual case where I may know what the facts are, and I may know what the prosecutor does traditionally, and I know the persons criminal history. Which by the way, criminal history plays a huge role. So, it’s hard to say what to expect.

But what any defendant needs to know here, is that the decision to take a deal is the defendant…solely. And if the defendant feels like the deal isn’t enough to warrant not going to trial, then the answer to that is go to trial. It’s always a risk balancing thing. The defendant needs to work closely with the attorney to balance those risks. Being presented with an offer, and that offer is whatever percentage better, if we want to talk about it that way, of whatever percentage better than a guilty finding after trial. And you balance that against how strong of a case do you have at trial. What is the likelihood of actually being able to win at a jury trial? You balance those things. Obviously, if the deal is just a little bit better than after a loss at trial, then maybe you don’t want to take it. But if it’s a lot better, then balanced against those same exact facts and risks at trial, you may go, ‘that’s something I want to do’.

I think that as a criminal defendant, you really need to be careful if you hire a private attorney…in who you hire. Because my experience is that some attorneys don’t like going to trial. And so, some attorneys will try to influence their client’s decision on going to trial or not. Because the attorney is scared of trial, or doesn’t want to do the work, or doesn’t want to go to trial. One of the things that I try to pride myself on is ‘that’s not in the mix at all’. Because I love going to trial. That, to me, is where this is fun. So that’s not part of the mix. My advice to my client really is about balancing those risks and trying to help them to balance those risks. But it’s the one thing, in the course of the litigation, one of several things, the defendant has the absolute say on. I don’t get to make that decision.”

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