Anyone charged with any sort of crime in Georgia needs to present a solid defense in order to stand a chance of achieving the best possible outcome to their case. This is everyone’s right, along with the presumption of innocence. T
Even when the best defense is presented, though, it is still possible for a jury to hand down a conviction. But that is not the end of the possibilities for negotiation. There are, especially in cases of serious felonies, separate penalty and sentencing phases through which a robust defense is still required.
This may prove to be crucial in the case of a man who was recently found guilty in Dekalb County of two counts of each the following felonies: felony murder, felony possession of a weapon and felony possession of a weapon by a convicted felon. The defendant claimed self-defense.
The penalties phase for this trial is just beginning at the time this post is written. Once it is concluded, the sentencing phase will begin. And there may be bargaining opportunities all the way along.
Many readers are likely familiar with the notion of plea bargaining. What may be less known is the fact that there are actually several possible points at which such discussions can come into play. There is, of course, the bargaining over charges. This generally involves the defendant pleading guilty to a lesser charge than prosecutors originally intended to pursue. The result is usually a lighter sentence.
Another is sentence bargaining, during which the defense and prosecution may agree to allow the defendant to plead guilty to the stated charges in return for a lighter sentence. Prosecutors may agree to this to avoid the expense and effort of a trial. It could also lead to a lighter penalty.
The successful completion of these types of plea deals is something that depends on the skills of an experienced criminal attorney. In the case we are writing about here, the defendant’s claim of self defense didn’t sway the jury. But whether that means the defendant will receive the maximum penalty possible remains to be seen.
Source: WSB Radio, “Jury finds man guilty of murdering Dekalb officers,” Jon Lewis, Oct. 12, 2012