This is the next post in our series on issues an Arkansas defendant may wish to consider before accepting a plea deal. Our last discussion looked at why one may receive a better plea offer after a Motion to Suppress is filed. It is not uncommon to see search and seizure issues result in prosecutors making a better offer. This post will focus on why one may wish to wait for their attorney to investigate the case before pleading guilty. The reason for waiting is simple – one’s criminal defense lawyer may uncover additional facts not known by law enforcement or prosecutors.
Arkansas prosecutors base their initial plea offer on the facts known at the time of the arrest as well as any post-arrest investigation conducted by law enforcement. When determining the initial offer a prosecutor will analyze arrest reports, police statements, witness recitations of events, crime photos, etc. The initial offer will be made before your lawyer has had the opportunity to retain an investigator and explore the facts of the case. In other words, the prosecutor’s offer will be based on an assumption that there are no other relevant facts to the case other than those reported by the police. An initial offer will not consider issues of self-defense in matters involving domestic violence, search and seizure issues which often arise in drug-related offenses, or other issues which arise in matters such as a DWI.
A prosecutor’s assessment of a case may change after one’s attorney has had a chance to investigate the underlying facts. There may be issues which show that a witness’ identification of a suspect is not reliable. Similarly, other witnesses or evidence may be located which contradict the basis for the defendant’s arrest. As your counsel explores the facts he or she will be in regular discussions with the prosecutors and these discussions can lead to a better plea offer. If the prosecution sees their chance for a conviction as having lessened then the offer will be adjusted accordingly. This is a common occurrence and Arkansas residents may be making a mistake if they accept a deal before their attorney investigates the case.
Our Little Rock criminal defense lawyers will use your initial consultation to hear your side of the story and to determine the extent to which you may benefit from the use of an investigator. We will be in regular contact with you throughout the process. Our clients are regularly provided with our attorneys’ cell phone numbers for ease of communication. We will ensure that you are kept up to date throughout the process and that you do not enter into a major decision without understanding the consequences of such a choice. We devote our practice to protecting the rights of the accused and are ready to assist you. Contact us today.