If you are accused of a crime, at some point the district attorney may present you with an offer where you will be charged with a lesser crime than you were originally accused of if you agree to plead guilty to that lesser charge. You get a lighter penalty, the D.A. gets a win, and everyone is spared the expense and burden of a criminal trial. So should you plead guilty to a crime?
When the evidence against you is legally obtained and unmistakably paints you as guilty of the crime for which you are charged, it could be a way to reduce the penalties you face. In this situation, pleading guilty may help you avoid a jail or prison sentence. However, pleading guilty to a sex crime isn’t always your best option.
The Evidence Against You May Not Be Strong Enough to Convict
Why would prosecutors offer you a plea deal? Sex crimes are tricky cases to prosecute. When there is no physical evidence, the case comes down to your version of the events versus that of the victim. Your attorney should seek to interview the accuser at a preliminary hearing so that he or she can assess the strength of the alleged victim’s testimony.
Most importantly, the preliminary hearing will allow your attorney to assess the accuser’s credibility. While California law prevents using the sexual history of the accuser as a means to establish whether he or she consented to a sexual act, your attorney can introduce that history to show that the accuser’s testimony is untrustworthy. Before your attorney can introduce this evidence, he or she must file a motion to allow the judge to evaluate the admissibility of that evidence. Winning that motion can send a strong signal to the prosecution that a plea bargain may be the only way to get a conviction.
Registration as a Sex Offender (PC 290)
Perhaps the most devastating outcome of a conviction in a sex crime case is the requirement that you register as a sex offender for the rest of your life pursuant to California Penal Code Section 290. Each year or anytime you move, you will be required to register with your local law enforcement agency. You will have to disclose your registration to every future potential employer and landlord, which can make finding a new job or a new place to live extremely difficult.
If you plead guilty to a crime that requires registration as a sex offender, you will be identifiable on California’s Megan’s Law website, which is a searchable database of sex offenders available to the public. Your listing will include your name, photograph, the crime for which you were convicted, and your address. But how does this factor into the question of whether you should accept a plea bargain or not?
Negotiating for Non-Registration
Not all sex crimes require registration as a sex offender. However, the court has the discretion to impose the requirement if the judge believes you committed the crime based on sexual compulsion or for sexual gratification. This is why it is extremely important that your attorney knows how to advocate for reducing the charges against you to a crime for which registration is not required.
If you are considering accepting a plea bargain in your case, you need to discuss with your attorney the ramifications of taking the deal. If prosecutors offer you a deal where you will still have to register as a sex offender, it may not be in your best interest to accept this deal. Your attorney may be able to negotiate with prosecutors to help you receive a plea offer that contains no requirement to register as a sex offender.
Contact the Sex Crimes Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Right Away
Before you even contact an attorney, the district attorney may approach you to ask you if you are willing to take a plea bargain. The smartest step you can make is to inform him or her that you will have an attorney review the offer before accepting it. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have over 30 years of experience fighting for people like you who have been accused of sex crimes. We know how to gauge the strength of your case and the strength of the prosecution’s case, and we know how to help you consider all the options available to you, including accepting or rejecting plea bargains. Contact us today for a free, no obligation phone consultation.
With offices in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, Ventura, Victorville, West Covina, San Diego, Torrance and Sherman Oaks, there is a Wallin & Klarich attorney experienced in sex crimes defense near you, no matter where you work or live.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.