In March of 2020, 26-year old Breonna Taylor was killed by police in Louisville during the execution of a no-knock warrant. This has sparked protests across the country focused on police brutality in communities everywhere.
In July, prosecutors in Louisville attempted to reach a plea deal with Taylor’s boyfriend, a man named Jamarcus Glover. He’s a convicted felon and police said they entered Taylor’s apartment in search of evidence that she was connected with Glover’s history of drug trafficking.
Police found no evidence, but they did try to get Glover to agree to a plea that attempted to tie Taylor to Glover’s illegal activities – plea agreements he and his lawyer rejected even though he now faces years in prison for a third felony conviction.
You depend on a defense attorney to do what is best for you and while plea agreements are standard in many cases, they may not always be in your best interest.
Here’s what you need to know about plea agreements in Florida, how they’re handled, and signs that you may have a defense attorney that doesn’t have the best defense for you in mind.
What Defines a Plea Agreement?
A plea agreement, also called a plea bargain, is an arrangement between the prosecution and defense. The perpetrator approves to declare that they are guilty to or plead no contest to charges in exchange for a deal with the prosecution.
Deals can include dropping charges against them or reduce charges to a less serious crime.
Parties can also agree to recommend a specific sentence to the judge that the defense agrees with. That said, there are sometimes ulterior motives to striking a plea deal.
Judges and prosecutors feel pressure to move cases through the system quickly due to overcrowding. Plea agreements can circumvent a trial and expedite the entire process. Plus, plea bargains allow prosecutors and the defense to feel they have some control over the outcome of the case, which is something guaranteed with a trail.
For these reasons, plea bargains are increasingly common, greatly reducing the number of trials nationwide.
How Plea Bargains Work in Florida
In Florida, plea bargains are common and follow the rules of the Florida Rules of
Defense attorneys work with the prosecution to comes to a set of mutually agreed-upon terms for the plea agreement, which is why having good representation for your case is so important.
You need a lawyer who is working for you and can help you understand the pros and cons of plea bargains.
How Do You Know Your Defense Attorney is Working For You?
When you reach out to an attorney for help in a criminal case, you’re in a vulnerable position and need someone you can trust. That’s why it’s important to know what to look for to indicate you may have a lawyer that isn’t working for you.
The most important things to look for in an attorney: a good reputation and solid communication.
Your Attorney Should Be Well-Respected
The legal circle in many cities and towns is small, meaning that everyone tends to know everyone. A lawyer with a bad reputation has usually earned it honestly.
If no one seems to respect them in the community and they are not endorsed by peers in and out of court, then that could be an indication of their level of commitment to their clients and how they practice law.
Your Attorney Should Be Able to Communicate Effectively
A good lawyer should always be reasonably responsive to you, your questions, and your case. You should be informed of any new developments and should never be ignored. You’re paying for their time and expertise – if they’re not giving it to you, then find a new lawyer.
It’s crucial to understand the plea deal process so that you receive a fair deal from the government. Having the right legal counsel goes a long way to ensure that’s the case.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented countless people in all kinds of personal injury cases, with a particular focus on child injury, legal malpractice, and premises liability. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and named one of America’s Top 100 High-Stakes Litigators. Mr. Winston is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2020 – an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – was voted to Florida Trend’s ”Legal Elite,” recognized by Expertise as one of the 20 Best Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys, named one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015-2017, and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida for 2015-2017 and 2019.