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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2009

    Default What's the Point of a Plea Bargain

    I have read many posts on here about people asking how to respond to and what to expect for a background check if they A) Enter a deferred disposition, dismissing the charges in the end and B) Agreeing to a plea bargain.

    Most of the answers back to these people from our senior members are that some background checks would show EVERY step of the way for the charges (charged/indicted-plea bargain/trial-final outcome/sentencing).

    So my question is: What is the mere point of EVER plea-bargaining or getting a deferred disposition if a background check would reflect everything that went on with your case??? Clearly if an employer is seeing a person charged with theft and dismissed through a plea deal, they can put 2 and 2 together and realize that the person agreed to plea-bargain because they probably really commited the crime. No employer is going to hire someone if they reveal that the person was at one time or another "on the wrong side of the law," regardless of the final outcome.

    It seems completely ridiculous.

    I was actually charged with felony theft, wasn't fully guilty of the charge, it was a very long story, and my lawyer finally talked me into and persuaded me to take the deferred disposition agreement to dismiss the charges after successful completion. I told him no and he insisted telling me that the deal GUARANTEES a clean record.

    What good is a "dismissal/clean record" if these employers can find out that I was charged with felony theft and had to plea-bargain/weasel my way out of it rather than fighting it??

    Any answers greatly appreciated. Thanks very much.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2008

    Default Re: What's Honestly the Point of a Plea Bargain

    Plea bargains exist for the benefit of the courts. Only 5% of criminal cases go to trial, and the court cannot even keep up with 5% imagine if 30% suddenly demanded a trial.

    Plea deals force innocent people to plead guilty. Take the one year we offer or we will seek 20 years at trial.

    Trials cost money, trials make prosecutors work and force then to use evidence and tell the truth. Trial is to prosecutor as holy water is to vampire.

    Plea bargains effectively put the entire process in the hands of the Prosecutor and if you know any prosecutors you know that's a bad idea.

    A biased link but one that explains well from a former Reagan official (but I gather he is now a libertarian)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2009

    Default Re: What's Honestly the Point of a Plea Bargain

    Kist, I appreciate your response. However, I don't think it really answered my question to the fullest.

    I understand that the courts are backed up and things have to be settled.

    BUT, why would a defendant who has half a brain, ever settle for a plea bargain KNOWING that their record is pretty much ruined even taking a plea bargain?? Employers who want to know about that person, will find that. Why not say to hell with it and demand to go to trial? Let the prosecutor either have to prove their case or let them drop the charges before trial.

    I was falsely accused of theft from a former employer. I wanted to fight it but my lawyer conned me into the deferred disposition agreement dismissing charges in the end. There is NO REAL dismissal according to people on here. I had to plead guilty.

    So I ask why a semi-intelligent defendant would ever settle for a stupid plea bargain when they know the prosecutor has to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt? There is a 99% chance I would have been acquitted and my lawyer knows it. To me, he made me settle so his work was done with my case.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2009

    Default Re: What's Honestly the Point of a Plea Bargain

    Sparrow, I am facing the same dilemma (see my post regarding Lots of Charges pleaded down).

    I had two counts of sexual assault, one count of criminal restraint, and one count of terroristic threats lodged against me by my insane ex.

    There's plenty of doubt in the first three counts, but there's still some circumstantial evidence, plus her word against mine.

    They've agreed to downgrade all the charges to disorderly persons offenses (a/k/a misdemeanors) which are not considered 'crimes' in NJ and are expungeable after 5 years. The truth is that compared to what I'd get if I went to trial and got convicted, this really looks like it's 80% in my favor, considering my ex wanted prison, Megan's Law, etc, thrown at me.

    But my concerns are the same as yours. While it looks like a good deal and basically removes all chance of criminal conviction and prison time and Megan's Law, I'm still worried about my background check until this all gets expunged. I'm currently a contractor but will likely have the opportunity to be hired full time, and usually that means another BG check. It's hard enough getting a job these days, much less trying to get one with a rap sheet holding you down.

    Why am I concerned? Because about a year and a half ago, even before there was an indictment, a background check showed I had charges pending, and the company I was already working for through a contract offered me a full time job. They did their own BG check and my job offer with them suddently turned into a pink slip. I talked to my lawyer about it, but unfortunately, there's nothing you can really do.

    NJ is an "at-will" employment state, which means, even after you accept a job offer and sign that you'll authorize a BG check, they don't have to give you a reason or even extend the courtesy of letting you explain. They will simply recind the offer and hire someone else.

    I don't want it to happen again because I really like the place I'm contracting for right now and would definitely want to go full time.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2008

    Default Re: What's the Point of a Plea Bargain

    No matter what you do the record will remain for private background checks, even after expunging. The court has no power over private databases they can only strike official records.

    Not guilty means you did it but they couldn't convict, they went to trial which means the state believed you did it.

    A dismissal can mean you didn't do it if a reason is listed.

    But this can be worked around by supplying a fact sheet with your resume. Letting them find it on their own is the worst thing you can do. I would hire someone who was jailed for accidentally killing a guy during a bar fight. I would not hire one with a record involving theft (other then childhood shoplifting)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2009

    Default Re: What's the Point of a Plea Bargain

    I believe (though I'm not certain) that you can open a dispute with private reporting companies (like Choicepoint) and if you send them the appropriate court forms documenting the expungement, they will update their records...kind of like what you can do with credit reporting like Equifax and Experian if you feel there is an error on your credit report.

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