When Are Plea Agreements Necessary?

According to an article by WSBT 22, the St. Joseph County Prosecutor’s office files an estimated 1,500 felony charges every year – but the county itself only has four criminal judges to try each case. In an effort to save time, the scarcity of resources has prosecutors and defense attorneys seeking ways to resolve cases without having to involve a courtroom.

While plea agreements have been seen as a necessary component to the justice system, the stakes are much higher in serious felony cases involving murder. When a case is in its early development, the defense will usually come to the prosecution, seeking a plea bargain. Attorney Stan Wruble told WBST 22 that only the judge has final say in whether the plea agreement is accepted or denied.

“There may be a case when you want to negotiate a plea to a lesser offense of manslaughter,” Attorney Wruble said. “Or, there may be a case where maybe you know your client was responsible for the person’s death, but they didn’t have that ‘mens rea,’ that guilty mindset.”

Because no two cases are alike, there’s no way of telling how a murder case will unfold – in some instances, a plea agreement is the most appropriate plan of action. According to the county’s prosecutor’s office, of the 11 cases involving murder charges in 2015, only one ended in a plea agreement.

“They Realize They Made a Mistake”

While plea agreements rarely sit well with the victim’s family, Attorney Wruble went on to say that many suspects eventually confess to their crimes. “Yes, do they want the best deal possible? Of course. They don’t want to be away from their families for years and years and years necessarily, but they do own up to it, and they realize they made a mistake.”

If you’ve been arrested or are being investigated for a crime, you should not hesitate to contact the dedicated South Bend criminal defense attorneys at Wruble Law Group. Call (574) 281-0142 to request a free case evaluation.