As part of an effective criminal defense strategy, an experienced defense lawyer will try to get your charges amended to a lesser charge. In many cases, your attorney is thinking of your possible jail time exposure if your case goes to trial. For example, if you are charged with aggravated battery, the potential jail time is much greater than if you are facing a simple battery charge. In Louisiana, aggravated battery carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison while simple battery carries a maximum sentence of six months.
Charge Reduced to Simple Robbery
A good example of the importance of charge reduction occurred recently with one of my clients in Lafayette, Louisiana who was charged with armed robbery. This charge requires that the defendant be in possession of a weapon during the robbery. However, in this case, it was not exactly clear that my client was armed, and the district attorney agreed to reduce the charge from armed robbery to simple robbery. This reduced my client’s prison exposure from 10-99 years (for armed robbery) to 0-7 years for (simple robbery).
Pre-Sentence Investigation Agreement
This reduction was also beneficial to my client because we now had more options for his defense. We could then enter a possible Pre-Sentence Investigation agreement (PSI) with the district attorney and hope for a light sentence from the judge. However, we could also take the risk of going to trial because we had significantly reduced our client’s exposure. Even if he was convicted of simple robbery, the maximum prison time is 7 years, whereas if he went to trial under the armed robbery statute, he could end up doing 50 years.
A reduction of charges will limit sentence exposure whether the defendant goes to trial or enters a plea under the PSI statute. And any good criminal lawyer knows that the one goal of criminal defense is to reduce the client’s sentence exposure.