When facing criminal charges in Florida, you never have to accept them as-is. You have the right to legal representation from a criminal defense attorney who can help you review your situation and determine the best course of action to work on getting your criminal charges reduced or dropped.
One of the most common methods of fighting criminal charges in Florida is entering into a plea bargain. A plea bargain is when the prosecutor offers you a deal where you plead guilty in exchange for reduced charges, a reduced sentence on the original charge, or dropping related criminal charges.
There are 2 types of plea bargains, a charge bargain and a sentence bargain. A charge plea bargain is when the prosecutor offers you the opportunity to plead guilty to a lesser charge, or have some of your charges removed in exchange for an admission of guilt on the main charge. For example, if you are charged with DUI and driving with a suspended license, the prosecutor may drop the suspended license charge if you plead guilty to the DUI criminal charge.
A sentence bargain is when you are told in advance what your sentence will be if you plead guilty. You may be first told you are facing the maximum conviction for your criminal charges, but if you plead guilty to certain criminal charges, you will be punished only for those charges and avoid the maximum penalty.
First you should always consult with a criminal defense attorney before accepting any plea bargain for your criminal charges. Your defense attorney may be able to reduce or drop the criminal charges against you before you plead guilty to anything if there is not enough evidence against you.
Second, remember that you should come to a full understanding of the details of your plea bargain before you agree. Having your criminal charges reviewed by an attorney is a good idea to make sure you are being given a fair chance at your defense against the charges.
Third, remember you are responsible for upholding your plea bargain details set forth by the prosecutor. Your attorney will help you keep track of the details of such requirements, such as testifying against a co-defendant. Ultimately, it is up to you to uphold the requirements of your plea bargain.
Fourth, you have the right to file a complaint with the court if the details of your plea bargain are not being upheld by the prosecutor. Your lawyer will help you file a complaint to either force the prosecutor to comply with the offer or have your plea set aside.
Lastly, if you are ever in doubt of how your plea bargain is being handled, you should bring it to the attention of your defense attorney. In many cases the prosecutor will try to use a plea bargain to obtain a conviction for criminal charges that your defense attorney may be able to fight in court.