Plea Negotiations in Florida – What if I don’t like the deal?

Plea negotiation is an agreement an attorney makes with the prosecuting attorney rather than going to trial. Some of the reasons prosecutors are willing to make a deal could be that their case is not very strong. Or perhaps they feel like the sentence is much worse than the crime. Perhaps the defendant thinks he will lose at trial and rather than risk a stiff sentence after trial, he takes a lesser sentence through a plea deal.

I must get 3-4 calls per week from people who want to withdraw their pleas because they don’t like the deal they got. First of all, you only have 10 days to withdraw your plea. Secondly, there are VERY SPECIFIC grounds for allowing withdrawal of pleas. One of the biggest is that you were not properly counseled about your rights or the terms of the agreement and that you did not understand. When a person pleas either guilty or no contest in court, the judge reads them a plea colloquy.

This is when the judge says:

“Are you entering this plea freely and voluntarily?”

“Has promised you anything in return for this plea?”

“Are you under the influence of any drugs or alcohol?”

“Is anyone forcing you to enter this plea?”

This list goes on. Inevitably people always answer yes to these questions even if they really don’t understand what’s happening. Many people who take plea deals do not understand exactly what they are agreeing to. But this is the time for them to say  “Wait, what exactly are you saying?”, if they don’t understand – it’s too late to do it later.

Today’s Hernando Times had an article about exactly this. A girl pled to murder, and then realized she probably had some defenses for trial. Her attorney filed the Motion to Withdraw her Plea within the 10 days.  But Judge Rushing denied it.

“I do believe she was properly advised by her counsel,” Rushing said. “There was really no pressure on her that I could see. … I think it’s a case of second thoughts or buyer’s remorse.”

According to the article, the young woman, who had no prior experience with the law, did not understand that she was facing 30 years in prison. People sitting in jail get scared and will often pled to anything just to get out. My advice – don’t do it. Call a competent Car accident attorney who can advise you of your rights and the shortfalls in your case.

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