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San Antonio Criminal Defense Attorney: The Truth About Plea Bargains - What You Need to Know

Plea bargains are a common feature of the criminal justice system in Texas and across the United States. A plea bargain is an agreement between a defendant and a prosecutor in which the defendant agrees to plead guilty to a charge or charges in exchange for a reduced sentence or other concessions. While plea bargains can be an effective way to resolve criminal cases, they also come with potential drawbacks and risks.

If you are facing criminal charges in Texas and are considering a plea bargain, it is important to understand the process, the potential consequences, and your legal options. In this blog post, we will discuss the truth about plea bargains in Texas and what you need to know before accepting one.

The Pros and Cons of Plea Bargains in Texas

While plea bargains can be an effective way to resolve criminal cases, they also come with potential drawbacks and risks. In this section, we will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of plea bargains in Texas so that you can make an informed decision.

Advantages of Plea Bargains:

Reduced charges and sentences: One of the main advantages of a plea bargain is that it can result in reduced charges or sentences. In some cases, defendants can avoid more serious charges by pleading guilty to a lesser charge. In other cases, a plea bargain can result in a shorter prison sentence, probation, or other alternatives to incarceration.

Avoiding trial: By agreeing to a plea bargain, a defendant can avoid going to trial. Trials can be lengthy, expensive, and stressful for both defendants and their families.

Certainty of outcome: By accepting a plea bargain, a defendant knows the outcome of the case and can avoid the uncertainty of a trial.

Disadvantages of Plea Bargains:

Waiving the right to a trial: By accepting a plea bargain, a defendant gives up their right to a trial. This means that they cannot contest the evidence against them or challenge the prosecution's case in court.

Guilty plea: In order to accept a plea bargain, a defendant must plead guilty to the charges against them. This can have significant consequences, including a criminal record and other collateral consequences.

Potential negative consequences: Even if a plea bargain results in a reduced sentence or charges, there can still be negative consequences. For example, a criminal record can affect future job prospects, housing, and other opportunities. In some cases, a plea bargain can also result in deportation or other immigration consequences.

It's important to carefully consider the pros and cons of a plea bargain before making a decision. Consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you weigh your options and make an informed decision.

The Process of Negotiating a Plea Bargain in Texas

The process of negotiating a plea bargain in Texas can be complex and involves several steps. Here's what you can expect when negotiating a plea bargain:

Pre-trial negotiations: Plea bargain negotiations typically take place before trial. The prosecutor may offer a plea bargain to the defendant or their attorney, and the defendant has the option to accept or reject the offer.

Assessing the evidence: Before accepting a plea bargain, the defendant's attorney will assess the strength of the evidence against their client. This helps them determine whether a plea bargain is in their client's best interests.

Crafting the agreement: If the defendant and the prosecutor agree to a plea bargain, the terms of the agreement will be negotiated. This may include reduced charges, a shorter sentence, or other concessions.

Presenting the agreement to the court: Once the agreement is reached, the defendant will typically appear before a judge to enter a plea. The terms of the plea bargain will be presented to the court, and the judge will decide whether to accept the agreement.

Sentencing: If the judge accepts the plea bargain, the defendant will be sentenced according to the terms of the agreement. I the Judge does not, then the defendant can withdraw their plea and start over.

When to Accept or Reject a Plea Bargain in Texas

Deciding whether to accept or reject a plea bargain in Texas can be a difficult decision. Here are some factors to consider:

Strength of the evidence: Before accepting a plea bargain, it's important to consider the strength of the evidence against you. If the evidence is weak or there are issues with the prosecution's case, it may be better to go to trial rather than accept a plea bargain.

Potential consequences: Consider the potential consequences of a guilty plea. Even if a plea bargain results in reduced charges or a shorter sentence, there may still be negative consequences, such as a criminal record or other collateral consequences. If the potential consequences are severe, it may be better to go to trial.

The likelihood of winning at trial: If the evidence against you is strong, it may be difficult to win at trial. In these cases, accepting a plea bargain may be a better option.

The nature of the charges: The nature of the charges against you is an important consideration. In some cases, such as cases involving violent crimes or sex offenses, the prosecution may be less likely to offer a favorable plea bargain. In these cases, it may be more difficult to negotiate a plea bargain that is in your best interests.

Personal circumstances: Your personal circumstances, such as your job, family, and other responsibilities, may also play a role in your decision. Going to trial can be time-consuming and stressful, and it may be difficult to balance these demands with other responsibilities.

The plea bargain process in Texas can be complex and overwhelming, but an experienced criminal defense attorney can help guide you through the process. A defense attorney can assess the strength of the evidence against you, negotiate on your behalf, and help you make an informed decision about whether to accept or reject a plea bargain.

Brad Thornton is a board-certified criminal defense attorney with extensive experience in the Texas criminal justice system. As a former chief prosecutor, he understands the ins and outs of the plea bargain process and can help you navigate the complexities of your case. If you're facing criminal charges in Texas, don't go through the process alone. Contact Brad Thornton at (210) 439-5627 for a free consultation to discuss your options and learn more about how he can help you.

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Attorney Brad Thornton is a highly experienced and Board-Certified criminal defense lawyer. With his background as a former Chief Prosecutor, he has a unique understanding of the criminal justice system and is able to provide comprehensive and effective representation to his clients. He is also deeply committed to ensuring that all individuals receive fair treatment in court, regardless of their background or circumstances.

Brad Thornton is dedicated to helping his clients achieve the best possible outcome for their case, whether it is in San Antonio or elsewhere in South Texas. He recognizes the stress and anxiety that can come with being accused of a crime, and approaches his clients with compassion while keeping them informed at every step of the process. His knowledge and experience make him a strong advocate for his clients.

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© 2023 by Thornton Criminal Defense, PLLC. 

Atascosa County Criminal Defense Attorney

San Antonio Office:

111 Soledad, Suite 401

San Antonio, Texas 78205

Tel: 210-439-5627

Atascosa Office:

216 N Bryant St

Pleasanton, Texas 78064

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