Can a Pennsylvania Judge Change a Plea Bargain?

Can a Pennsylvania Judge Change a Plea Bargain?

The Basics of a Pennsylvania Plea Bargain

Defending one’s freedom in front of a judge can be intimidating for many people, especially when a plea bargain is involved. Many individuals assume that the justice system is used against them and that they cannot avoid being convicted at trial. Because of this, many people choose to plead guilty rather than fight their criminal charges and accept the punishment they receive from the court. It is important that your attorney explain the ramifications of accepting a plea bargain before you decide to do so.

Who Holds More Power in a Trial? The Prosecutor or the Judge?

Plea bargains come under Pennsylvania Code Rule 590 where someone charged with a crime agrees to plead guilty for a lighter sentence. In court trials, prosecutors actually hold more power than judges do when it comes to bargaining. Judges usually don’t get involved in these proceedings. However, judges can reject a recommended plea bargain if they think the sentencing isn’t appropriate .

Should I Accept a Plea Bargain?

Your attorney will advise you on whether it’s a good idea to accept it or not when you are facing a DUI, drug, theft or even federal charges. Your lawyer has your best interests in mind when you are facing charges and will give you an honest appraisal of your chances of being given a higher sentence if you go to trial. In some instances, your attorney will recommend that you accept a plea bargain if it seems this will result in a lower sentence. 

Judges Have to Make Their Decision Early

Remember that the prosecutor has to prove their case “beyond a reasonable doubt.” That’s a high bar to reach. Their witnesses may be absent or uncooperative and illegal search and seizure and other problems may make the prosecutor think they might not get a conviction. By offering a plea bargain to the defendant, the case doesn’t have to go to trial, and the prosecutor can add another win to their list of accomplishments. 

Handling a Plea Agreement

The judge has various options to use in a case if a plea bargain is offered. However, the judge must decide before the defendant enters their plea. Options available to the judge are:

  • The judge can either accept or reject a plea agreement.
  • The judge can accept the agreement but reject the sentencing.
  • Waiting to decide until they’ve seen the presentence report happens at times.
  • The judge can suggest to the defendant that they go ahead and make a plea without having the agreement negotiated. This may happen if the judge is thinking of giving the defendant a lighter sentence than the prosecutor is considering.

What Your Lawyer Will Examine to Defend Your Case

Defense attorneys are practiced in looking over all aspects of a criminal case to find flaws. By doing so, it can result in reduced charges or even a dismissal. After all, your conviction will follow you around for life. Some of the areas in which they investigate include:

  • Violation of the defendant self-incriminating themself
  • Illegal search and seizure
  • Violation of the defendant’s right to legal representation
  • Violation of due process
  • Fault in the collection of evidence
  • Surprise evidence or charges that were not provided in advance

Travis Law Firm – Protecting Your Rights in Criminal Charges

In cases where you have been charged with a crime and you may be offered a plea agreement, The Travis Law Firm in Erie, PA is here to help to ensure you get the best possible outcome. Your rights need to be protected by a defense attorney who will fight for them. Get in touch with us at the Travis Law Firm by calling (814) 277-2222. Our online contact form is also available.