If you are charged with a crime in Parker County, do not expect a dramatic courtroom showdown like the ones in movies and TV. Only about 2 percent of criminal cases go to trial.
Prosecutors dismiss about 8 percent of their cases. Sometimes, prosecutors dismiss cases due to a lack of evidence. Other times, the defendant completes a pretrial diversion program, which is a bit like a short period of probation, and prosecutors then dismiss the case.
Plea bargains resolve the remainder, or about 90 percent of all cases. Generally, these plea bargains involve reduced charges and/or sentences. The exact nature of a plea bargain agreement often depends on a Weatherford criminal defense attorney's legal and negotiating skills.
Pretrial release is an important part of a successful defense. Generally, if defendants remain in jail, they accept unfavorable plea deals just to "get it over with."
If the defendant is charged with a nonviolent misdemeanor, Own Recognizance release may be available, especially if the defendant has no criminal record. OR release usually costs little or no money and has few conditions.
Cash bail or a bail bond may be available as well. The cash bail might be $750 for a misdemeanor and $1,500 for a felony. Those amounts could be significantly higher in many cases. If the defendant cannot afford cash bail, a surety bond might be an option.
If the defendant does not qualify for OR release and cannot afford cash bail or a bail bond, the judge may reduce the bail amount further, based on factors like the defendant's contacts with the community and the severity of the offense.
Announcement, Plea, and Trial
In this context, "announcement" is Legalese for "deciding what to do next." Between the court announcement settings, an attorney researches the law and investigates the facts. Based on this evaluation, as well as the defendant's needs and preferences, attorney and client decide how to proceed.
Generally, a plea bargain is in everyone's best interests. There is an old saying that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. In other words, if an attorney is able to negotiate a favorable plea bargain, that's probably better than a trial.
Trials are very risky. There is no telling how a judge or jury may decide the facts. Plea bargains give defendants much more control over the outcome.
A trial may be before a judge or before a jury. Both kinds of trials have pros and cons. In both cases, the state must establish guilt beyond all reasonable doubt.
Knowing what to expect in a trial helps defendants make better decisions. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Weatherford, contact Herreth Law. We routinely handle matters in Parker County and nearby jurisdictions.