Sex Crime Plea Agreements: Is it a Good Deal?Published: Jun 25, 2020 in Child Sex Crimes, Criminal Defense, Sex Crimes, Sex Crimes Involving Children
In Harris County, Texas criminal cases are often resolved by plea agreements. Pleas are made between you and the prosecution, where you agree to plead guilty to select charges for a certain penalty.
While pleas must be approved by the judge, they avoid costly trials and increase efficiency. They are also helpful to avoid unnecessarily harsh sentences – especially when sex crimes are involved.
However, plea agreements still result in convictions, and there may be unintended consequences to accepting. So, if prosecutors offer you a plea in a sex crime case, you need to talk it over with your attorney.
An experienced Houston sex crimes lawyer can negotiate the terms and review the details to mitigate its impact: now and down the line.
Contact The Law Offices of Ned Barnett at (713) 222-6767 and schedule a free, confidential consultation.
Plea Bargain: Pro & Cons
Whether it is referred to as a plea agreement, plea deal, or bargain, you need to consider the obvious outcome versus the potential outcome of a trial. You also need to be aware of when pleading guilty is not in your best interest or exactly what you want.
Will a Plea Reduce the Charges?
A common element of a plea is that it lets you plead guilty to a lesser charge. If the crime is a “wobbler,” (can be considered a misdemeanor or felony), a plea agreement may allow you to plead guilty to a misdemeanor.
There could also be a difference in the level of felony you face. Instead of a first-degree felony for aggravated sexual assault, you may be able to negotiate it down to a second-degree felony for simple sexual assault. The difference in prison time here is between five and 99 years or two and 20 years.
A plea could also result in having your charges drafted as “attempted” instead of completed. This can drastically alter the penalties.
Does the Plea Minimize the Penalty?
You can also reach a plea agreement for the least severe punishment.
All offenses have a range of penalties. For example, a third-degree felony can mean between two and 10 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000. If you accept a plea, you will want to make sure your sentence falls on the lower end of that range.
In addition to offering less time behind bars, a plea can involve alternatives, like work release, electric home monitoring, probation, community service, counseling, and/or rehab. For sexual offenses, there will likely be a focus on you getting mental health treatment.
Does the Plea Require Sex Offender Registration?
One of the most critical things to consider with sex offense pleas is whether it requires sex offender registration.
It may be possible to negotiate the plea agreement so it does not require registration. However, this is a challenge. In some cases, this aspect may be more important to prosecutors than jail. But if it is your first offense, and your attorney has a solid argument as to why registration is inappropriate, it’s possible to get a result that does not include mandatory registration.
Your lawyer can also focus on negotiating for a plea that reduces your registration period or allows you to be removed later. For instance, you might have to register for 10-years rather than the rest for life.
Do You Have a Strong Defense?
The biggest question you face while considering a sex crime plea is whether you have a chance of an acquittal at trial. The stronger your defense and the greater the likelihood that you would be exonerated, the less likely you are to benefit from a plea.
On the other hand, sex crimes are aggressively pursued and there’s a lot of pressure on prosecutors to get results. You may be in a situation where a guilty verdict it is almost guaranteed. In this case, a plea may be exactly what you want.
Essentially, it will come down to the evidence, your lawyer’s ability to negotiate, and what the best possible outcome is in your specific case.
Let The Law Offices of Ned Barnett Help
It can be hard to tell if the plea agreement they are offering is the best option. There may be aspects and consequences of accepting that only an experienced lawyer can help you with.
Ned Barnett is a former prosecutor with long history of fighting for people accused of sexual offenses. He will carefully review the offer and compare it to the facts of your case.
Let us provide an objective opinion about a possible plea and your odds at trial.