The Mn Criminal Defense, Personal Injury & Family Law Blog
How Do Buffalo, MN Criminal Defense Lawyers Resolve Cases?
June 3, 2019
Criminal law-themed movies and TV shows usually feature emotional courtroom showdowns. These confrontations may be an emotionally satisfying way to end a Perry Mason episode, but they are usually not a good way to resolve a criminal case. Trials, especially jury trials, are incredibly risky propositions. There is no telling what the jury will decide. Plus, many defendants must wait several months for their trial dates to come around. Such a long wait is not acceptable in many cases.
For these and other reasons, plea bargains resolve as many as 97 percent of the criminal law cases in Wright County. These out-of-court settlements give the parties in the case, the defendant and the prosecutor, almost total control over the outcome. Additionally, plea bargained cases usually end much sooner.
Alleged miscreant Jussie Smollett got pretrial diversion in an Illinois felony case earlier in 2019. Maybe he deserved it and maybe he did not. But in any case, such dispositions are quite common, even in felony cases. Prosecutors are more likely to offer pretrial diversion if, as was the case with Smollett, the defendant has no criminal record and is charged with a nonviolent offense.
Pretrial diversion is also very common in drug cases, especially if the defendant gets help for a substance abuse problem.
Program requirements vary, but generally, if the defendant pays a small fee and jumps through a few hoops, like attending a class and performing some community service, prosecutors dismiss the charges.
As the name implies, all these things usually happen fairly early in the process. If all goes well, a Wright County judge could sign a dismissal in as little as a few weeks. If all does not go well, there may be no negative fallout. The criminal process simply picks up where it left off.
Not to keep harping on the Smollett case, but many Buffalo, MN criminal defense lawyers surmised that he should have received deferred adjudication instead of pretrial diversion.
To some degree, these two plea bargain dispositions are the same. If the defendant successfully completes the deferred disposition program, the judge dismisses the case.
But in most ways, these two things are very different. Deferred disposition is a form of probation. So, the defendant goes before the judge and enters a plea. Then, instead of entering a finding of guilt, the judge defers further proceedings until the probation period ends.
If prosecutors file a motion to revoke probation, and the judge grants it, the defendant could be in serious trouble. At that point, the judge can sentence the defendant to anything up to the maximum under the law.
So, deferred is a high risk-reward proposition, especially in a serious felony case. Therefore, you should carefully go over all the pros and cons with an experienced Buffalo, MN criminal defense lawyer.
In both regular and deferred disposition probation, all defendants must follow some generic conditions. Some of these program requirements include:
Paying a fine and monthly supervision fees,
Working or attending school full time,
Staying away from drugs and alcohol,
Avoiding disreputable persons and places,
Reporting to a probation officer, usually on a monthly or bi-weekly basis, and
Staying out of trouble with the law.
If prosecutors file a motion to revoke, it’s usually based on failure to pay money, failure to report, or committing another offense. Most of the other conditions are rather subjective and difficult to enforce.
Defendants who get regular probation have criminal convictions on their record. However, if the defendant has a good probation record, a Buffalo, MN criminal defense lawyer may be able to terminate the probation early and perhaps seal the defendant’s criminal record. Additionally, in revocation situations, the judge usually cannot lock the defendant up and throw away the key. Regular probation punishment options are more limited.
Why did we include this item on a list of plea bargain possibilities? A Buffalo, MN criminal defense lawyer should always prepare as if the case will go all the way to trial. That’s the best way to get the best possible plea bargain deal. If the threat of a trial is not a credible one, prosecutors have no incentive to offer good deals like pretrial diversion and deferred disposition.