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Indianapolis Criminal & OWI Lawyers > Blog > Criminal Defense > Plea Bargain Options In Marion County

Plea Bargain Options In Marion County


In ye olden days, before 1900, criminal plea bargains were almost unheard of. As the country grew, the criminal justice system couldn’t keep up. So, plea bargains were a good way to avoid long delays awaiting trial. As recently as the 1980s, trials still resolved about a fifth of state felony cases. Today, that trial resolution percentage is down to about 5 percent.

Plea bargains don’t just speed up the process and avoid unnecessary delay. Generally, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. So, if an Indianapolis criminal defense lawyer helps a defendant negotiate a reasonable plea bargain, or another such option is on the table, it is sometimes better to take the deal than to risk losing the case at trial and face a lengthy prison sentence. A reasonable plea agreement varies wildly depending on the strength of the State’s case.

Agreed Plea

As mentioned, pleas resolve about 95 percent of Marion County criminal cases. Most of these resolutions are agreed plea bargains.

Negotiating a plea bargain agreement is a little like negotiating the price of a used car on Craigslist. The seller, which in this case is a prosecutor, usually makes an initial offer.

Prosecutors usually base this offer on the severity of the offense and the defendant’s criminal record. For example, aggravated battery, a Level 3 Felony, is more serious than simple Battery, which is a class B Misdemeanor. Any criminal history can cause a prosecutor to issue a tough offer initial offer.

A defendant always has three options when dealing with a plea offer.  The Defendant can:

  • Accept the offer
  • Reject the offer and go to trial (or)
  • Propose a counter-offer

A defense lawyer’s counteroffer may hinge on a legal defense or on the equities involved. For a defense, let’s go back to the battery example. Self-defense is a common affirmative defense in a battery case. Lack of evidence is a very common defense in all criminal cases. Defense attorneys, like buyers, must thoroughly research their positions, often through a process called discovery, prior to recommending a specific course of action on a case.

The “equities” is Legalese for extenuating circumstances which don’t constitute a legal defense but nevertheless deserve some consideration.

After some back and forth, or sometimes after considerable back and forth, the prosecutor and Defendant, through his agent (also known as his attorney) agree on a resolution. If the Judge accepts the agreement, the case is resolved as the parties have agreed.

Open Plea

If lawyers can’t work out an agreed plea, but a trial is an even worse option, defendants may literally plead guilty without an agreement and throw themselves on the mercy of the court.  In that situation, the Defendant faces a penalty anywhere within the statutory range, but the Defendant does often receive some mitigation of his or her sentence for having accepted responsibility for their actions.  In situations where the prosecutor is being unreasonable, this can be a viable option.

Reach Out to a Hard-Working Marion County Attorney

Criminal suspects have important rights when their cases go to court. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Indianapolis, contact Rigney Law LLC. We routinely handle matters throughout the Hoosier State.


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