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West Palm Beach Criminal Lawyer / Blog / Criminal Defense / Are Plea Bargains Possible In Domestic Violence Cases?

Are Plea Bargains Possible In Domestic Violence Cases?


The plea-bargain is a tool in an attorney’s arsenal, used in cases where a prosecuting attorney is unsure they will get the outcome they wish for at trial, or where a defense attorney is unsure they will be able to successfully establish a person’s innocence. They are far more common than the average person realizes; U.S. Department of Justice statistics estimate around 95 percent of federal and state criminal cases end in plea-bargains. Domestic violence cases, however, can sometimes be different.

A Broad Definition

Domestic violence cases are seen as serious in Florida, with the legislature passing a very broad definition of which offenses fall under that umbrella. State law holds that any criminal offense “resulting in physical injury or death” to a specific class of person (namely, those who have certain special relationships to the alleged perpetrator) qualifies as a crime of domestic violence. If a person is convicted of this kind of offense, the presence of domestic violence will act as a sentencing enhancement at post-trial hearings.

Because of the potentially serious consequences that might come with a domestic violence conviction, it is not uncommon for defendants and their attorneys to seek plea-bargains in this type of case. If a state’s attorney accepts a proposed plea deal, the defendant can potentially avoid a harsher sentence, and the state’s attorney can streamline their caseload if they believe the plea-bargain to be appropriate.

Different Types Of Bargaining

There are three types of bargaining one might engage in when trying to negotiate a plea deal. They are:

  • Charge bargaining. This occurs when a defendant offers to plead guilty to a lesser charge than the one with which they were originally charged. For example, a person charged with a crime of domestic violence might agree to plead to a charge of disturbing the peace, or to attend a pretrial diversion program if they have never before been in trouble with the law;
  • Sentence bargaining. This is when a defendant agrees to plead guilty to the charge against them in exchange for a lighter sentence – a common example is a capital murder defendant pleading guilty to first-degree murder in exchange for avoiding the death penalty; and
  • Fact bargaining. This is less common, and more focused. Fact bargaining occurs when a defendant officially admits certain facts, usually to prevent the prosecution from introducing those facts themselves, or to allow them to explain their existence.

An experienced attorney can determine which, if any, might apply in your case, and act accordingly. While obviously, no one wants to think about admitting any kind of guilt – least of all in a domestic violence situation, which can carry significant social stigma – a plea bargain may be your best option if the facts are against you.

Contact A West Palm Beach Domestic Violence Attorney

Being charged with a domestic violence offense in Florida can be frightening, and it is crucial to know your options. If you have questions or concerns about a domestic violence case – with or without a possible plea-bargain – a West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney from Perlet & Shiner, P.A. may be able to help. Call us today to speak to an attorney.



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