How much will my husband/wife/son/daughter/fiancee get?

The top question asked is always what somebody is “looking at” for their charges.

There’s so much more than just the charges.  I can tell you what the maximum sentence is and if there are any mandatory minimums, but from there….

Every case is unique. A plea sentence (or a sentence after a conviction at trial) takes into account many factors:

The facts of the case.

Were there aggravating factors in this particular case that make it worse than others of the same type? Were there facts that make it less serious than others? Did it exhibit a great risk of danger to the public or a hypothetical risk? Was there anyone harmed? If so, have they been made whole again through restitution, etc.?

Any prior record.

The presence of any prior convictions – felonies or misdemeanors – matter greatly. I know that’s one of the first things any DA or judge will want to know when evaluating a case – what is the defendant’s record? If there are prior convictions, can they be explained away or is there documentation to put a better spin on them, rather than just the mere conviction?

Does the case resolve by way of a plea deal or did it go to trial?

A defendant in any criminal case has an absolute constitutional right to have the prosecution prove the case against them beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury. They cannot be punished for exercising that right, but they can be rewarded for pleading guilty and “acknowledging wrongdoing” at an early stage of the proceedings. That’s where plea bargains come into things. That brings up the last factor…

What can be worked out?

If the facts and the law start stacking up against the defense, it’s not over.  There may be additional mitigating factors that need to be brought to everyone’s attention to explain the conduct or minimize its significance. There may be legal motions that can be run to suppress evidence, statements or challenge charges.   All that, along with discussions of the merits of the case, trial issues and similar cases and their outcomes all can be discussed.  I know that lots of attorneys bill themselves as “aggressive,” but in many situations, reasonable discussions during plea negotiations go a long way.   My bottom line in every case comes down to one simple question:

What is the very best outcome I can achieve for my client on this case?

It’s a simple philosophy, but one that I keep in mind for every single case. That may mean the very best negotiations or a fight at trial.  I can’t say it enough – every case is unique.  To discuss yours, give me a call.

Joe Dane

(714) 532-3600

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