Historic Information on Fort Lauderdale Criminal Lawyers Handling of Plea Agreements
Fort Lauderdale Criminal Lawyers - Broward County Prosecutors
Historically, most plea bargains were struck between Fort Lauderdale criminal lawyers and Broward County Prosecutors without any participation by the judge, and at trial the judge was not even informed that a plea bargain existed. As the U.S. Supreme Court noted in 1977, "only recently has plea bargaining become a visible practice accepted as a legitimate component in the administration of criminal justice. For decades it was a sub rosy process shrouded in secrecy and deliberately concealed by participating defendants, defense lawyers, prosecutors, and even judges." The extrajudicial nature of plea bargaining contributed to the public perception that the process was a disreputable practice that the legal profession kept hidden from judicial and public scrutiny.
In order to counteract such perceptions, Fort Lauderdale criminal lawyers and Broward County Prosecutors are required to present the plea agreement to the judge in open court. The court's disposition of the plea agreement depends upon the nature of the agreement.
Fort Lauderdale criminal lawyers generally classify negotiations into two categories:
1. Recommendation plea agreements. If the Broward County prosecutor has agreed to recommend a particular sentence, the trial court must advise the defendant that the recommendation is not binding on the court and that the defendant has no right to withdraw the guilty plea if the actual sentence imposed exceeds the recommendation. In essence, the defendant must be aware that the bargain includes only a recommendation from the prosecutor, not for the actual sentence to be imposed by the judge. The defendant has a right to hold the prosecution to its promised recommendation. However, the defendant has no legitimate claim upon the action of the court in determining sentence. Fort Lauderdale criminal lawyers must be certain that their client understand every aspect of this negotiation.
2. Disposition plea agreements. When the Broward State Attorney's Office has agreed that a specific sentence is appropriate, the court may accept or reject the agreement, or the court may defer its decision until after consideration of a presentence report if requested by the defendants Fort Lauderdale criminal lawyer. If the court accepts the plea agreement the court will impose the sentence provided for in the agreement. Thus the accused will know in advance the extent of the sentence. If, however, the court rejects the plea agreement, neither party is bound by the agreement and the defendant has the right to withdraw a plea of guilty by and through their Fort Lauderdale criminal lawyer. If the defendant persists in a guilty plea, the defendant must be advised that the final disposition of the case may be less favorable than that contemplated by the plea agreement.
Prior to the court's acceptance of the plea agreement, the prosecution's withdrawal from an unexecuted plea agreement is "without constitutional significance." Broward County criminal prosecutors sometimes threaten that the proposed plea agreement is a "one-day-only" offer, and the defendant cannot force the prosecution to reinstate a previous offer. The defendant's plea of guilty with knowledge of the prosecution's withdrawal constitutes a voluntary and intelligent plea.