If you have been formally charged with a crime, such as assault or drug-related charges, you likely have a lot of questions and feel some sense of uncertainty as to what’s to happen next. This is completely normal, most people do not have an intimate knowledge of the laws and processes that occur when one is accused of a crime. There are a few ways to approach criminal charges. Suppose they are charges related to DWI. One way to approach and handle the charges is through plea bargaining or plea negotiation.
Most of us understand what a plea is. This is what an accused person ‘enters’ in terms of being accused of a crime and either accepting or declining the validity of the charges against themselves. While most of us envision this process happening in a court room, the reality is that plea negotiations can be entered anywhere just as long as the correct people are present to witness and enter the plea. Plea bargains must have three elements in order to be valid.
These three elements are knowing waiver of rights, voluntary waiver and factual basis to support the charges to which the defendant is pleading guilty. The last one is especially important, as it helps to prevent those from pleading guilty or no contest to crimes that they factually could not have committed. It is more than just an accused person pleading guilty. There must be a level factual evidence to connect him or her to that crime and the necessary paperwork must be filed and valid in accordance with Texas state law.
If you are thinking of entering a plea negotiation, it’s best to come prepared. Understanding the charges against oneself and the potential consequences for pleading guilty are high priorities on a person’s list when accused of a crime. Plea bargains are not usually a get out of jail free card. While many potential punishments for a crime can be dropped, pleading guilty would mean accepting responsibility for the crime you are accused of and it can have a large impact on the rest of a person’s life. Weigh the pros and cons prior to entering a plea bargain.
Source: criminal.findlaw.com, “Plea Bargaining: Areas of Negotiation,” Accessed April 24, 2018