What should you do when the prosecution suddenly offers you what seems like a pretty attractive plea deal?
Check the timing of the offer.
If the offer comes right before a hearing designed to determine whether or not the warrant that led to your arrest should be suppressed, you might want to think carefully about why that plea deal is being presented right now. You particularly want to ask a lot of questions if the plea deal is being offered on the condition that you accept it right away, before the hearing.
In specific, one of the questions you should be asking is “What is wrong with the warrant?” The odds are good that the prosecutor has asked the exact same question and that’s why you’re getting the offer.
While people like to think police officers always uphold the law, recent events have shown that police — like other human beings — are fallible. In fact, research indicates that about three officers per day end up arrested somewhere in the nation for breaking the law. That’s a startling figure, and it doesn’t even account for the number of officers who are caught doing something they shouldn’t (like lying on a warrant) but never arrested.
The reality is that many warrants contain falsehoods that could lead to their suppression if they’re challenged by an aggressive criminal defense attorney in court. Officers often bank on the fact that many people simply give up and assume that no one will believe them over the arresting officer. Many people will accept a plea offer simply because they’re frightened of the possibility of a much more severe sentence if they go to trial and lose — which also allows suspect warrants to go unchallenged.
The reality is that there are many unscrupulous police officers and suspect warrants out there. Prosecutors and judges know it. Challenging the basis of a traffic stop or other “reasonable cause” for suspicion is often the best way to get a criminal charge dismissed altogether. If you know that the officer lied or omitted some facts, you may want to forgo the prosecutor’s offer.