It is said that 90% of criminal cases are ultimately resolved by plea agreement. In NW Oklahoma, it seems to be an even higher percentage. Therefore, it is important to understand the different options you have when entering a Guilty or No Contest plea.
Negotiated Plea: A negotiated plea is one in which you have reached an agreement with the District Attorney and know exactly what they are going to recommend to the Judge. You have accepted this and are telling the Court that you agree with this sentence. Technically, the Judge does not have to accept a negotiated plea. However, in NW Oklahoma it is very rare for a Judge to reject a negotiated plea. On the few occasions a plea has been rejected in this area, it has usually been in a highly publicized or egregious cases like child molestation. If the Court rejects a negotiated plea, they will almost always allow you to withdraw your plea and go to trial.
Blind Plea: A blind plea is one in which you do not have an agreement with the District Attorney and are throwing yourself at the mercy of the Court. The Judge can sentence you anywhere within the range of punishment and can do better OR worse than what the DA is recommending. Another potential drawback to a blind plea is that certain Assistant DA’s will withdraw their offer or make their recommendation to the Court more harsh if you choose to blind plea. In most felony cases, you have the right to a presentence investigation (PSI) where you will meet with a probation officer who will evaluate your background, history and likelihood of reoffending. That probation officer will give a written recommendation to the Court as well. Your attorney may be allowed to put on witnesses or present evidence in mitigation. Then the Court decides your sentence. If you do not like the sentence the Judge gives you, you can request to withdraw your plea, but the request is rarely granted based solely upon being surprised or getting a harsher sentence than you expected.
Because of the potential ramifications of each kind of plea, it is very important you hire a LOCAL and EXPERIENCED criminal defense lawyer to give you good advice. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen a lawyer from out of town, or even in town lawyers that are not very experienced in criminal law, accept a bad offer from the ADA that I know could be much better if they blind plead the case. However, because they do not have the experience of hundreds of cases before a particular judge, they are unaware their client could get a better sentence.