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Plea deal could drastically reduce ex-mayor's sentence

A plea deal has its pros and cons in the public eye, but in reality, plea bargains are essential to the court system. Plea bargains are necessary because of overburdened court calendars and overcrowded jailhouses. When charged with an offense, the importance of negotiations and plea offers becomes key.

Former mayor of Charlotte, Patrick Cannon, is currently facing white-collar crime charges for accepting bribes that could land him in prison for up to 20 years. An expert in white-collar crime, however, predicts that Cannon will only serve approximately three to five years as a result of his plea agreement. The agreement dictates that Cannon's offense will drop two levels if he agrees to plead guilty.

Plea agreements can work in several ways. Sometimes an individual is offered a plea agreement in which he or she is able to plead guilty to a lesser charge. Other times, an individual may be offered an agreement in which several counts or charges will be dismissed, so long as the individual pleads guilty to the charge that the prosecution wants.

How strategy plays into a plea agreement is crucial to one's final sentence. A criminal defense attorney must use the evidence to argue during negotiations about the strength of the prosecution's case. Typically, the weaker the case, the better the plea agreement.

Having an experienced legal professional on one's side is imperative when negotiating a plea agreement with the prosecution. Those facing criminal charges should discuss their circumstances with a legal professional in order to protect their rights and find the path towards their best possible outcome.

Source: Charlotte Business Journal, "Expert: Plea could reduce ex-Charlotte mayor's sentence to three years," Erik Spanberg, June 04, 2014

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