“Flipping” for a Better Deal
Rumor has it a number of defendants who are low on the totem pole in the Georgia case involving former President Trump are flipping on Mr. Trump. What, exactly, does that mean? In general, flipping is the act of revealing evidence that a prosecutor values, often related to a co-defendant. The prosecutor may have bigger fish to fry, and be happy to reduce or eliminate charges against a small fry in order to get the kingpin. This is more formally referred to as turning state’s evidence. What could that mean for the typical defendant?
Defendants always have a constitutional right to turn state’s evidence, but there are federal rules that must be followed. The defendant would plead either guilty or nolo contendere, or would make a plea conditional on a review by an appellate court. Going forward with the plea would entail being advised and questioned under oath in open court, with information related to several issues:
- The right of the government to use statements provided under oath when prosecuting false statements or perjury;
- The gist of any charges to which the defendant may choose to plead guilty;
- Maximum penalties associated with such charges, detailing incarceration, fines, probation and parole;
- Mandatory minimum penalties for each of the charges;
- The possibility of court-ordered restitution;
- The right of the court to order a special assessment;
- Sentencing guidelines to which a judge must adhere;
- The right of the defendant to plead not guilty;
- The right to have counsel to represent the defendant, and have that counsel appointed by the court if needed;
- The right to have counsel present throughout all proceedings and the trial;
- The defendant’s right to testify at trial, to refrain from incriminating themselves, to confront adversarial witnesses, and compel witness testimony;
- The waiving of the above rights in the event a plea deal is accepted;
- The inability to appeal if the plea is accepted;
- The likelihood of deportation for non-citizens.
It is the responsibility of the court to ensure that any plea is entered into voluntarily, and that the defendant was in no way forced or threatened. The judge will meet the defendant in open court to establish that the plea agreement was honestly brokered, and that there was a factual basis for the plea, meaning evidence that the defendant really is guilty of the crimes listed in the plea agreement.
Withdrawing the Plea
Prior to the court’s accepting the agreement, a defendant may withdraw from it for any reason. If the court has accepted the plea but not yet imposed a sentence, the defendant may present a reasonable explanation for wanting to withdraw from the plea and see how the court responds.
Is a Plea Deal in the Cards for You?
Plea deals occur all the time, to the benefit of both the defendant and the state. At Lobo Law, our knowledgeable Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys know how to negotiate the best possible deal for clients if they wish to pursue a deal. To discuss your situation, schedule a confidential consultation in our office today.