Michigan CSC Case: Plea Bargain and Settling
Instead of going through with a full criminal trial, a defendant in a CSC case may decide that it is his best option to plead guilty. In fact, the vast majority of cases are resolved by plea-bargaining. The prosecuting attorney and the defense attorney work out a plea bargain, yet it is the defendant’s decision on whether he will plead guilty. Taking a guilty plea may benefit the defendant in a variety of ways, including receiving a reduced sentence or a promise by the prosecutor to not seek an enhanced sentence.
Types of Guilty Pleas in CSC Cases
There are three main types of guilty pleas in Michigan: Cobbs, Killebrew, and Alford.
A Cobbs plea allows a defendant to enter a conditional guilty plea which can be withdrawn if their eventual sentence falls outside the sentencing terms specified by the judge before the plea was entered. Although prosecuting attorneys and defense attorneys may enter into sentencing agreements, judges are not bound by what the parties determine. In Cobbs pleas, before the plea is entered, the judge advises the parties as to what an appropriate sentencing range would be under the facts of the cases and the defendant’s criminal history. If the defendant is later sentenced outside of the range originally announced by the judge, the defendant may withdraw his plea and instead take his case to trial.
A Killebrew plea is similar to a Cobbs plea, in that is a conditional guilty plea. However, a Killebrew plea differs from a Cobbs plea, because the plea can be withdrawn if the defendant’s ultimate sentence falls outside the sentencing agreement negotiated by the prosecuting attorney and defense attorney. Generally judges are not bound by sentencing agreements negotiated by the parties, but Killebrew plea agreements allow the defendant to enter a conditional plea if the judge is advised of the terms of the agreement before the plea is accepted. The defendant pleads guilty expecting a certain sentence, and he can later decide to take his case to trial if he does not receive the sentence he expected.
In Cobbs and Killebrew guilty pleas, the defendant is admitting that he is factually guilty of the crime charged; that he is the person who indeed did commit the crime.
The final type of plea, the Alford plea, is a type of guilty plea that allows the defendant to plead guilty yet still maintains his factual innocence. In an Alford plea, the defendant admits that the evidence the prosecution has would be enough to persuade a jury that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, yet the defendant refuses to admit factual guilt. This type of plea is typically used by defendants who want to quickly resolve the case against them and potentially avoid a worse sentence if they were to lose the case against them at trial.
Reaching an Agreement in a CSC Case
Plea agreements may include an agreement to a sentence to a specific term or within a specific range, an agreement that the defendant provide information to the prosecution, or an agreement that the defendant testify against the other co-defendants at their trial. In order for a plea agreement to be valid, it must be in writing or made a part of the official court record.
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