Stephen G. Cobb - Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer

Plea Bargaining And Trial


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.

Okay. Now, at this point, we need to talk about plea bargaining a little bit as well as trial. At some point, you are going to be at that point of decision and that point of decision is, do I go to trial or do I take the deal? Along the way, there may have been motion hearings. Maybe you got lucky and your lawyer was able to file a motion to dismiss and your case is over. Maybe you got lucky and a motion to suppress evidence resulted in the state dropping all or some of the charges. And in many cases with plea bargaining, it may be possible to negotiate a dismissal. The classic example of a negotiated dismissal is a minor in possession charge because sometimes they will try in different parts of the state to use phony diversion, and here is how it works.

They dangle in front of you, “Oh, we will dismiss the charges” but then, they make you sign a waiver of your rights. If you do not complete the diversion program, then you go directly to sentencing and they are going to ask for incarcerative time and they put so many hoops for you to jump through a phony diversion that I honestly sometimes think it is designed for people to fail. Whereas in a negotiated dismissal, quite often in minor in possession cases or other cases, battery cases, domestics, it is possible to negotiate a dismissal with very few conditions and sometimes none at all. So, the plea bargaining process is going to be affected by things like strength of case. And we use some techniques I am not comfortable sharing on camera for the whole world because I do not want to give the office of the state attorney my entire arsenal. But let’s just say that the system is the secret and parts of the system you already know about, there are things like fact pattern reports, there are things like coping with stress during the criminal prosecution, there are things such as dress instructions for court instead of dressing according to what you think looks nice in court yet may result in incarcerative time by accident.

So, in plea bargaining, you have to know what your client wants and then move in that direction but the stronger the case is from a trial perspective, that is going to have an impact. Uncovering those defenses that a layperson would never pick up on can make a big difference. And as for what kind of a plea bargain, obviously I cannot tell you because I do not know anything about your case or that of your loved one, but I can just say that they run the gamut from a variety of outcomes and it is very important to communicate clearly and effectively with your legal team to know what you want as an outcome, what your backup is if that is not obtainable and so forth, and your legal team will go over that with you at the right time.

Let’s talk a little bit about trial. Now, in Florida, if you have the misfortune or your family member has a misfortune of being charged with a capital case, you are looking at a 12-person jury. And if it is a non-capital case, then what happens is you are looking at a 6-person jury. And immediately, a lot of people are thinking, “Wait, that does not sound fair”, of course, it is not. The law is not designed to be fair. The law is designed for politicians to get reelected. And the way they get reelected is not by waking up like I earlier referenced in an earlier video and going, “We should be smart about the problem of crime and we should do things that are prevention in nature and it will be effective. And when people have substance abuse problems and mental health issues, we should do things that are actually going to solve the problem and reduce crime and recidivism”, repeat offending. That never happens. And we all know why because “Lock Them Up And Throw Away The Key” is popular. Make voters angry, get some case with a terrible fact pattern and sure enough, the Florida legislature, all of the villages across the state will empty off idiots, we call them “Politicians”, they go to Tallahassee and for 60 days, they vote on laws and usually they make laws harsher and dumber.

That is why you can get an AR-15 military grade weapon that has been used to kill numerous people across the country with no problems, yet if someone is smoking a joint in many parts of Florida especially your rural counties, they will be whipping out the guns and doing a felony takedown, “Get down on the ground”. And obviously one of these things is more dangerous than the other. So, why is one not prioritized but the other one is? And the answer is politics. So, the system is rigged. You need to know that going into it. It is rigged for convictions. And when you have a trial, what is going to happen is each side will have a chance to do an opening statement. And in the next video, I will explain that as well as the other parts of a trial.

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.

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Stephen G. Cobb, Esq.

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