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Plea bargain in traffic cases

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A plea bargain in traffic cases is an agreement between the prosecuting authorities and the accused. As part of it, the driver admits to a charge reduced from the one initially attributed to him, in exchange for his confession. To make sure that a plea deal is indeed the best alternative for the driver and to ensure that he receives the favorable terms of the settlement, it is recommended that the defendant should be represented by a professional and experienced lawyer. Contact our office to receive advice and assistance from an experienced and reputable traffic lawyer.

Plea bargain in traffic cases

What is a plea bargain?

A significant number of traffic cases in the courts in  Israel end with a plea deal. As part of a plea bargain, a full legal process is not conducted in court, but the parties to the process – the prosecution on the one hand and the accused on the other – settle them. A plea bargain can refer only to a reduction in the severity of the charge or to a reduction of the charges the driver was initially accused of, and can also include an agreement regarding the punishment that will be imposed on the driver for the traffic offense.

In this matter, the parties can therefore determine in the plea agreement what the driver’s punishment is or determine a range of punishment, which ranges from a very light punishment up to a more severe punishment but one that is agreed upon by the parties, such as the suspension of a driver’s license for a limited time. In this situation, the court is the one who will sentence the driver according to the terms stipulated in the agreement, unless it is unreasonable in the eyes of the court. In such cases, the court will impose more severe punishment on the driver according to its discretion.

Types of plea agreements

As we described above, there are two types of plea agreements. One is concerned with the seriousness of the offense only, so the charge attributed to the driver in the settlement is less serious than the one initially attributed to him. The second type of settlement also determines what will be the punishment to be imposed on the accused for the relevant offense.

When a plea agreement deals with the charge section only and does not refer to the driver’s punishment at all, then the parties leave the full discretion to the court to decide the defendant’s punishment. Then, each side will present their arguments regarding the severity of the punishment that they think is appropriate. Naturally, the prosecution will seek to reach a stricter punishment for the driver, while a traffic lawyer representing the driver will seek to make it easier for him, for example, due to his age, clean traffic record, etc.

Court approval of a plea deal

 When a plea bargain has been consolidated between the prosecution and the accused, it will not be considered a valid agreement until after the court has given its approval to the agreement. We must emphasize that the court has the right not to accept a plea deal concerning the defendant’s punishment, but the court does not have the option of not accepting the settlement concerning reducing the severity of the charge. In general, the position of the courts regarding plea agreements is that they greatly optimize the judicial process and serve the principle of justice, since the prosecution reduces the severity of the indictment according to the weight of the evidence in its possession.

For this reason, the courts usually respect the plea arrangements presented by the prosecution except in exceptional cases, for example, when they believe that the plea arrangement unreasonably exceeds the punishment that should be imposed on the driver in that case. As mentioned, the court may reject a plea agreement regarding the punishment only, and if it chooses to do so, it will impose on the driver a more severe punishment than the punishment agreed upon as part of the settlement, to fit the offense to its best judgment.

Legal representation for the driver

In any case, where an indictment is filed against a driver for a traffic offense, he needs to be served with professional legal representation that will work to minimize the damage from the legal process. In many cases, a plea deal will accomplish this goal and the attorney will work to obtain the best terms of the agreement for the defendant. It is important to understand that more than once the prosecution’s first offer for a plea deal is exactly that, only a first offer. If the driver stands alone in front of such an offer, it is most likely that he will accept the proposed offer.

However, when the driver is represented by an experienced lawyer, he will be able to conduct professional negotiations with the prosecution based on the quality of the evidence he is holding in his hands and based on the circumstances of the case, and he might end the procedure in a more favorable arrangement for the accused. On this occasion, we would like to emphasize that it is very useful and supportive to receive legal advice already at the preliminary stage of the police investigation so that the lawyer will be able to examine the possibility of closing the case without prosecution and if, as mentioned, an indictment is filed, he will work out to arrange a plea deal for the accused.

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