Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Should I Plea Bargain or Go To Trial in NH?

DO I TAKE A PLEA BARGAIN OR GO TO TRIAL?

The answer is “it depends.”  Before an intelligent decision can be made about whether to take a plea bargain, one should consult an experienced New Hampshire criminal defense attorney.  One of the first things a good attorney will do is to listen carefully to their client’s version of events as “every story has two sides”.   Often, your version of events may be markedly different from that of the responding police officers, or may be similar but with added details.  It’s not unusual for a person to remember significant key events in hindsight long after a stressful event.   Similarly, it is not unusual for the police to leave out important key details in their report or to neglect to speak with key witnesses.  We will often have a private investigator track down missing witnesses; take pictures of the crime scene, etc.  All in an attempt to paint a complete picture as to what transpired.  You cannot be fully informed until we have gathered all the facts and evidence and weighed the strengths and weaknesses of the State’s case.

WHAT HAPPENS IF I WANT TO TAKE A PLEA OFFER?

Once armed with all the necessary information you can now make an intelligent decision whether to take a plea deal.    In most cases, the prosecutor will approach us with a “plea offer” on a case.  We then review the potential offer with you and oftentimes will make a “counter-offer”.    As with most plea bargains, the person charged pleads guilty or “no contest” (sometimes to a lesser charge) in exchange for a sentence that has been negotiated ahead of time with the prosecutor.  Sometimes a person will plead guilty to one offense and, in return, the prosecutor will drop several other, more serious charges in return for the guilty plea.  Sometimes a person will plead guilty to a less serious offense and have a more serious offense dropped.  Do not enter into a plea agreement until you fully understand all the terms and conditions of your sentence and the “collateral consequences.” 
It is important to note that even if all sides come to a plea agreement this does not mean the Judge must accept the plea agreement.  Sometimes a court needs to understand the rational and justification for a plea agreement that the court deems to lenient.  Sometimes the court wants to know the precise justification for a certain agreement. 

We would much rather be fighting before a jury than to have our clients plead guilty to anything at all.  However, every case is unique and different.  Sometimes the result achieved by way of a plea bargain is much better than a potential sentence handed down by the court.   Plea bargaining is an essential part of the criminal justice system that needs to be tackled by an experienced criminal defense attorney in NH.



HIRE THE RIGHT LAWYER – EXPERIENCE MATTERS


Experience matters.  Your life and liberty are in jeopardy.  Mark and Justin are experience criminal defense lawyers with negotiation experience.  Mark and Justin are former prosecutors who understand what the State must prove in your case and are not afraid to fight on your behalf.  It’s important that you consult with an experienced criminal lawyer.  You wouldn’t go see a foot doctor for a brain aneurism; likewise, don’t go see the family practitioner for a complex criminal problem.  We want our clients to be fully informed and to be secure in the decisions they make.

Please contact our office for a no cost consultation to discuss the facts of your case. 

The Law Office of Shepherd & Osborne
351 Main Street Nashua, NH 03060
www.shepherdandosborne.net
Phone: 603-595-5525
Fax: 603-595-5533