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What Do Plea Offers Generally Look Like For First Offenders?

Disclaimer: This article is in response to questions frequently asked of Mr. Cobb and is an unedited dictation transcript. Just like talk to text on your smartphone, there may be misspelled words or sentence fragments.

When it comes to first offenders, they are probably the most likely to be manipulated by the government in the handling of their criminal case. We have called law enforcement officers and corrections officers in jails and in some counties, even pre-trial release personnel who have been giving people legal advice. Giving people legal advice when one is not a lawyer is what is known as unlicensed practice of law. The people who are giving this unlicensed legal advice are not exactly in the defendant’s best interest or on their side. When people go to court on their own, they almost never likely to get the best plea offer.

The state attorney knows that large numbers of people are going to go to misdemeanor arraignment court, whether it’s a criminal traffic violation such as the DUI or driving on license suspended, or is a non-traffic related misdemeanor offense such as possession of marijuana, possession of paraphernalia or battery assault and the domestic violence variations of those crimes. Since they know that the individuals coming to the courthouse are not prepared in terms of having sufficient knowledge about the law other than a brief internet search, they do not routinely offer them the best plea offer. When you have legal counsel involved, suddenly the plea offers get better. However, there is great effort to avoid criminal defendants from exercising their rights to legal counsel.

If the state attorney’s office can dangle a carrot with more promise than what it delivers in front of a criminal defendant and the criminal defendant takes it, that’s good for the state attorney but not very good for the person. The classic example of that is where someone have to enter a no contest plea in order to participate in some form of diversion program, that has so many hoops and requirements for the individual to jump through, it almost looks like it’s designed for them to fail. If, for some reason, they don’t jump and clear each and every single hoop through a diversion program, then in many of these cases, instead of having their charges dismissed, as they had hoped, people find out that they have lost their right to trial and that they are going to jail.

How Do Prior Records Affect Sentencing?

When it comes to Florida Courts. I have had more than one case where somebody would have a DUI that was well outside of the 30-day minimum under the DUI statute for a third offense DUI or the 5-year, minimum mandatory 10 days in jail under the same DUI statute and yet the person finds himself with a plea offer that contains 3 times as much jail. They are stunned by this. They are even more stunned if they made the mistake of self-representation and find out about all of that jail time the hard way in the courtroom when they’ve entered a plea of no contest and they’re taken out the back door.

Disclaimer: This article is in response to questions frequently asked of Mr. Cobb and is an unedited dictation transcript. Just like talk to text on your smartphone, there may be misspelled words or sentence fragments.

For more information on Plea Offers For First Offenders, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (850) 466-1522 today.