A great criminal defense lawyer has several tools to help a client avoid jail.

In Michigan, a defense lawyer can negotiate with the prosecutor or the judge for an agreement to avoid or limit time in jail or prison. The better the lawyer, the better the deal.

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How to Avoid a Harsh Sentence on Felony or Misdemeanor Charges

No criminal defense lawyer can win every case. In many situations, a defendant acknowledges making a mistake or having a momentary lack of judgment; however, they want to avoid incarceration. Several tools in a skilled defense attorney’s arsenal exist to negotiate a sentence agreement for no jail or a reduced sentence. Experienced defense attorneys can argue the facts, law, or mitigating equitable factors to secure a favorable plea bargain or sentence agreement. The defendant’s bargaining position is strong if the facts are weak and the defense lawyer is strong. If the defense attorney can attack the admissibility of the government’s evidence based on statutory or case law or the constitution, the prosecutor might be willing to offer a favorable plea arrangement. Finally, in cases where the evidence of guilt is strong, a savvy defense attorney can advocate for a deal based on equitable mitigating factors such as employment history, hardship, practice rehabilitation, medical issues, prior good conduct, and more.

Below are some instrumental cases that help a proactive defense lawyer achieve the best possible result for their client.

Killebrew Plea Agreement with the Prosecution

Based on People v Killebrew, 416 Mich 189 (1992), a “Killebrew plea” allows a defendant to enter a conditional guilty or no contest plea. According to Killebrew, the defendant can withdraw their plea if the judge’s sentence falls outside the terms the prosecutor and defense lawyer negotiated. Typically, defendants plead guilty or no contest without expecting a specific sentence or sentence limit. A sentencing agreement between the government and the defense does not bind or force a judge to agree. However, with a “Killebrew agreement,” the presiding judge is advised before the plea of the agreed-upon sentencing terms and has allowed the defendant to enter this rare, conditional plea. The judge is not a party to the plea agreement and might later refuse to follow the arrangement. But, because the defendant was induced to plead guilty by an expected sentence, they have an absolute right to withdraw their plea, negotiate a new plea, or take the case to trial.

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Cobbs Agreement with the Judge

A “Cobbs agreement” is a sentence evaluation from the judge in exchange for a guilty or ‘no contest’ plea. The agreement is between the judge and the defense attorney. Essentially, the agreement is that the sentence will not exceed the sentencing evaluation. People v Cobbs, 443 Mich 276 (1993). Essentially, a Cobbs agreement is a worst-case scenario failsafe. If the judge intends to sentence the defendant in excess of the Cobbs sentencing agreement, the defendant has the absolute right to withdraw their plea and take the case to trial. The prosecutor is not part of the Cobbs agreement; however, many judges look to the prosecutor for guidance or acquiescence. Because the prosecution might influence a judge’s evaluation of the maximum sentence to be imposed, an experienced, respected defense lawyer has the best chance of persuading the prosecution not to impede a favorable Cobbs evaluation. If a prosecutor strenuously objects to a Cobbs evaluation, the defense lawyer must be influential enough to convince the judge to enter the agreement despite the government’s opposition.

Plea to Lesser Charges

In some cases, it might be virtually impossible to negotiate a sentence agreement for no jail for one reason or another. A savvy and skilled defense attorney will switch tactics and negotiate for reduced or different charges. In Michigan, a judge can lawfully only accept a guilty plea if the defendant admits to every element of the charges. All felony and misdemeanor offenses in Michigan are made up of parts called elements. If any element of the crime, such as criminal intent, is not established, the defendant cannot be convicted. An exception to this rule is a Hutcherson plea based on People v. Hutcherson, 96 Mich. App. 365 (1980).

In a Hutcherson plea, a defendant can plead guilty to reduced charges by admitting facts that establish the elements of either the reduced charge or the original charges. If the defendant admits facts to the original, more severe charge, the judge will accept the plea as if they established a factual basis for the reduced charge. The conviction will reflect the reduced offense with the lower penalty.

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Attorneys Who Routinely Negotiate Sentence Agreements for No Jail

Most defense lawyers in Michigan do not take the time or exert the effort necessary to negotiate the best possible resolution in their client’s case. This can happen because the lawyer is overburdened, lazy, unskilled, inexperienced, or unmotivated. The good and affordable Defense Team with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. is nationally recognized as one of Michigan’s top criminal defense firms. By utilizing a unique team approach to defending our clients, every case has several lawyers collaborating to achieve an extraordinary result. Our lawyers are fearless, aggressive, proficient, and zealous. We will do whatever it takes to get our clients the best outcome possible. Our highest priority is to get all charges dismissed when possible. If you are looking for a defense attorney with the power and influence to negotiate a top-notch deal on your behalf, you are in the right place. Call us for a free consultation, and we will find a way to help you.

Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete an online Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.

We will find a way to help you and, most importantly,
we are not afraid to win!

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