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Plea Bargain Questions

What is a plea bargain?

When a defendant pleads guilty to particular charges against him/her in exchange for a lesser sentence from the prosecutor, it is referred to as plea bargain. A plea bargain is an agreement between the prosecutor and defendant usually in criminal cases. Hence the accused may plead guilty for a less serious offence or may plead guilty to only one of the charges against him/her in return for a dismissal of the other charges. A plea bargain helps avoid a lengthy criminal trial and it assists criminal defendants to avoid being convicted on serious charges that could increase their imprisonment or jail time. It should be noted when you agree to a plea bargain you give up your right for the prosecution to prove the charges against you beyond reasonable doubt. Plea bargains are disadvantageous if you are innocent or if the evidence is insufficient. You also miss out on the chance to appeal at a later date if you choose a plea bargain.

In Colorado, once I have successfully discharged my sentence based on my plea bargain, can my record be sealed? Can a federal misdemeanor be expunged?

Most states allow complete deletion of records however Colorado does not permit it. It provides an option to petition for permanent sealing of records. Once a record is sealed, it is considered the crime or arrest did not occur. The police will also be affirmative of this action. There are circumstances which allow a record to be sealed. They are:
  • If a person was ruled innocent
  • The case was dismissed before the trial
  • On compliance of all conditions a deferred sentence was ruled (sometimes, this is disallowed too)

Therefore if a person is found guilty or has opted for a plea bargain where he/she has pled guilty of a crime, the records of such individuals cannot be sealed. A crime such as domestic violence is not allowed a reprieve of record sealing. In such cases, a person is allowed to apply for record sealing only once ten years have passed since their date of conviction.

Federal deletion of record is possible only if the conviction was unlawful, the statute upon which it was based was unconstitutional or conviction occurred due to governmental misconduct. The only option in this scenario would be to write and request a pardon from the President of the U.S.

I entered into a plea bargain where I am yet to complete the two month probation. My employer is unwilling to let me work as they believe this is a conviction because of my guilty plea. Is this true?

When you plead guilty or accept a plea bargain, you are also considered as convicted though this could be a temporary suggestion. This is referred to by the court as “taking the conviction under advisement”. You are required to complete all the conditions of your two month probation after which the guilty plea can be set aside by the judge and the case can be closed. Until such time there is no legal authority or remedy to offer to your employer. You should try to convince them of the conviction to be being dropped on successful completion of your probation.

If I take a plea bargain for conspiracy to commit a crime and it is a first offense, could I get sentenced jail time or probation?

It is possible for a first time offender to be given probation. This is dependent on the type of crime, the district attorney and judge assigned to the case. It is also varies if it is a federal offense and it is influenced by state law, which can vary from state to state. In some cases, states rule within defined guidelines to decide on probation or imprisonment. Other aspects taken into consideration are the seriousness of the offence, the past record or history of the person, employment details, connections with the community, and so on. Some offenses may have mandatory jail time.

Can I file for re-consideration after accepting a plea bargain?

Usually when a plea bargain is arrived upon between the prosecutor and defense attorney, the judge can accept the plea after contemplating on it. The judge does not have to approve each and every plea bargain. Sometimes it could be for reasons which cannot be argued by the defendant. Re-consideration motion can be filed to make the judge re-consider his/her previous ruling.

A plea bargain can be a way out of your predicament but you may need to forego your constitutional right and chance to be convicted beyond reasonable doubt. Some are of the opinion that criminals who deserve a full sentence escape with a lighter one which they may not deserve because of plea bargain. In contrary this affects innocent persons or someone who would not have been convicted. If they unnecessarily accept a plea bargain, their future may become bleak. To know more about plea bargains and your particular situation, Expert’s insights could prove to be very useful as well as necessary to clear your doubts.
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