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Prosecutors rely on fear during plea negotiations

On Behalf of | Nov 11, 2022 | Criminal Defense |

Well over 90% of the criminal cases in Texas and around the country are resolved by plea agreements rather than trials, and many of these agreements are rooted in fear. The prosecutors who make plea offers and the defendants who accept would be far better off if they prevailed in court, but they would rather not take that chance. Prosecutors know that their careers are likely to be short if they waste taxpayer money on trials that end in acquittals or dismissals, and defendants know that being found guilty by a jury will usually lead to jail or prison time.

Stacking the deck

The criminal law shift from trials to plea agreements has made life easier for prosecutors. One common tactic they use to ramp up fear during negotiations is called charge stacking. Before discussions begin, prosecutors examine the facts of the case to determine every law that may have been broken. They then charge the defendant with as many counts as they can to improve their negotiating positions.

Sentence reductions

Most plea agreements involve an admission of guilt in return for reduced charges or a reduced sentence. Police officers know this, and they sometimes time their arrests to give prosecutors an edge at the negotiating table. Narcotics officers could do this stopping suspects in school zones where the penalties for violating drug laws are much harsher.

Experience counts

We all like to think that we know what is best for us, but we tend to leave truly important matters to professionals. Being arrested is a fairly rare event for most people, but most prosecutors negotiate plea deals every day. Experience counts in these situations, so the wisest course of action may be to speak with a professional before accepting or rejecting any plea offer.