Articles Posted in Plea Deals

The United States Supreme Court today ruled that criminal defendants have the constitutional right to effective representation when making the decision as to whether or not to accept a plea bargain. In two paired cases, Lafler v. Cooper and Missouri v. Frye, the Court ruled that an attorney’s mistakes at the plea bargain stage can render a defendant’s plea ineffectual.

supreme court.jpg Our Annapolis criminal defense attorneys are experienced at giving our clients the right advice with regard to all of the client’s available options, including plea deals. In today’s legal climate, more often than not, criminal charges are resolved by way of plea bargains, rather than trials. Our attorneys are prepared to provide our clients with the proper guidance as to what will give the clients the best results possible.

In Cooper, Cooper’s attorney informed him that he could not be convicted of assault with intent to murder, because of the attorney’s belief that Michigan law did not permit a finding of intent to murder when the victim was shot below the waist; the attorney was wrong. As a result, Cooper rejected a plea deal, under which he would have received a recommended 51-to-85-month sentence. He was subsequently convicted at trial, and received the mandatory minimum 185-to-360-month sentence.

In Frye, the defendant was arrested for driving with a revoked license, the third time he had been arrested for that offense. Frye faced a maximum of four years in prison on the charge. The prosecutor in the case provided Frye’s attorney with an offer to reduce the charge, making it a misdemeanor, with a 90 day jail sentence. Frye’s attorney, however, did not bother to relay the offer to his client. Frye ultimately plead guilty to the charge, without the benefit of the offered plea bargain, and was sentenced to three years in prison.
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Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera recently plead guilty to DUI in St. Lucie County, Florida. Notable in the case is the plea deal his attorney negotiated for him, avoiding jail time and allowing him to put the case behind him before spring training starts up.

Our experienced Maryland DUI attorneys have years of practice negotiating the best possible results for our clients, in legal representation ranging from DUIs to drug arrests and beyond. Our attorneys recognize that each case is different and requires particularized focus, both related to the facts of the case and the client’s individual needs.



The facts of Cabrera’s arrest show that his February 2011 arrest was not a run-of-the-mill DUI. After arguing with and threatening a manager and a police officer at a bar when he was refused service, Cabrera took off in his Land Rover before other Fort Pierce, Florida police arrived on the scene. Later that night, a sheriff’s deputy came across Cabrera’s truck, which had smoke rising from the engine. The police noted that Cabrera had bloodshot, watery eyes, and slurred speech. With officers on the scene, Cabrera grabbed a bottle of scotch and took a drink – a move that probably did not help his cause!

Cabrera actually faced a number of charges, including the DUI, two resisting an officer charges, and an open container violation, which his attorney was able to negotiate into the plea deal. As a result of the deal, Cabrera must comply with a number of sanctions: he was fined $500, had to pay about $1400 in court costs, is on probation for a year, must attend a couple of classes and perform 50 hours of community service, and had his driver’s license suspended for six months. Despite the sanctions imposed, none of which appear to be especially onerous to Cabrera, the plea deal benefited him because it allowed him to focus his time and energy on the upcoming baseball season, and avoided any possibility of jail time. While “celebrity justice” probably played a bit of a role in the outcome, it looks like the attorney obtained a very favorable deal for his client under the circumstances.

Our attorneys are experienced in defending DUI, DWI, and other drunk-driving charges in Baltimore, Annapolis, and throughout Maryland. Each case is different, but our experienced attorneys work to achieve the best possible deal for each of our clients’ particular circumstances.

Clarence_Darrow.jpg Most people’s image of the classic criminal defense attorney is that of Johnnie Cochran defending O.J. Simpson, Clarence Darrow’s famous closing argument in the case of Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold, or Shawn Holley Chapman’s ongoing attempt to help Lindsey Lohan stay out of jail. The day-to-day reality of what a defense lawyer does, though, is much less likely to make the headlines of Entertainment Tonight or the Baltimore Sun. Most often, the criminal defense attorney’s hardest work comes behind the scenes, where frequently the most benefit for the client can be had. This is especially true when a criminal defendant is facing charges that have highly inflamed the public and are drawing a lot of attention from the media.

In order to obtain the best representation possible – for cases in the media or just of concern to the defendant and his or her family – individuals facing criminal charges should seek representation by experienced Maryland criminal defense attorneys. At Brassel, Alexander & Rice, our criminal defense attorneys are highly experienced, and always seek to obtain the best possible results for our clients, whether that result can be found in the courtroom or through negotiation with the prosecutor.

When the media spotlight focuses on a case, the defendant in the case is at an extreme disadvantage. When public attention stays on the facts of a case, not only does the potential jury pool become tainted with significant amounts of inadmissible statements and evidence, but the State’s Attorney begins to feel a lot of political pressure as well. State’s Attorneys are elected officials in Maryland, and it is inevitable that they will listen to what their constituencies have to say on a matter that has a high public profile.

A case in point was the recent plea deal for Teonna Brown, the young woman charged with the beating of Chrissy Polis, a transgendered woman, at a local McDonald’s. The episode caught significant regional media attention, was viewed on video millions of times around the world, and was also used by advocates for transgendered people to strengthen calls for legal protection for the transgendered.

Under such public scrutiny, obtaining a fair trial for Ms. Brown in the case would have been very difficult, and the importance for the criminal defense attorney to press the case behind the scenes became paramount. Charged with first degree assault and other crimes, Ms. Brown faced a minimum of 25 years in prison, with the possibility of having an additional ten years of prison time tacked on because of hate crime charges. Ms. Brown’s defense attorney, however, was able to work out a plea deal in which Ms. Brown would only face a ten-year sentence, with five of those years suspended. Thus, while the defense attorney’s work was done behind the scenes in this case, it was in all likelihood much more effective than anything that he could have accomplished in front of a jury in a courtroom.

It is vital for criminal defendants to hire experienced Maryland criminal defense attorneys immediately when faced with criminal charges. When the public is focused on a particular crime and calling for a heavy punishment, experienced legal representation can be the difference between a very difficult trial and a positive result in plea negotiations.