If you are charged with a crime in Rhode Island, you have the right to take your case to trial. However, there is a possibility that the prosecutor will offer you a plea deal. Although accepting a plea deal counts as a conviction in your proceeding, it may allow you to resolve the case favorably.
The judge’s role
It’s important to understand that a plea deal is simply a suggestion to the judge from the prosecutor. The judge is under no obligation to accept the terms of the agreement at sentencing and can make changes if necessary. However, in most cases, the deal will be accepted as is. Plea deals are often rejected if they appear too lenient or if the defendant fails to show remorse for his or her actions. A defendant may also choose to spurn a plea deal in favor of going to trial as part of a criminal defense strategy.
Other factors that impact a plea deal
A judge must also evaluate whether a plea deal conforms with state and federal laws. For example, if a defendant is deemed to lack the mental capacity to negotiate or agree to an agreement, it may be rejected. The same might be true if there is reason to believe that a defendant is forced to accept a deal.
Judges can help craft deals
Judges generally stay away from negotiating plea deals because they are generally too busy to do so. Plea bargains are made available because they allow courts to clear their dockets and focus on only the most pressing matters. However, they do get involved if a case moves them or if they want to make a larger statement of some kind.
A plea deal may allow you to avoid jail time or other penalties in your case. Accepting an agreement may trigger a mandatory minimum sentence or other penalties if you have a criminal record. The judge and prosecutor in your case may consider that when crafting your deal.