Prior convictions often have a negative impact in plea negotiations with a prosecutor prior to proceeding to a trial. This is especially true if the prior conviction is related to the charges currently pending in court. For example, if an individual is currently charged with Assault 3rd in or around the St. Louis area and he or she has a prior conviction for Use of False Identification, the initial offer from the prosecutor after negotiations would typically be more favorable than if the prior was also an Assault charge. Often, there are arguments made between a criminal defense attorney and the prosecutor over whether the previous arrest resulted in a conviction. For instance, a Missouri Appellate Court recently ruled that an out-of state conviction could not be used as a prior offense when it did not show what court convicted the defendant.
Obviously, before an attorney negotiates an initial offer or plea bargain, he or she must perform a detailed review of relevant evidence, investigate all circumstances surrounding the arrest, and interview possible witnesses against the client. This is a very important part of representation as it enables the attorney to have all arguments at his disposal when meeting and negotiating with the prosecutor.
It is important to remember that the burden of proof rests with the government. That burden of proof is to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed all the elements of the charged crime. At Henderson & Waterkotte, P.C., our St. Louis criminal defense lawyers prepare for each case from the beginning as if it were going to trial in order to put our clients in the best possible position for negotiations throughout the length of the case. This allows us to negotiate from a position of strength. If negotiations break down with a prosecutor or our client is not prepared to accept a plea offer, we stand ready to proceed to trial.
If you have been charged with a crime in the greater St. Louis Area, including Jefferson, Franklin, Lincoln, Madison, St. Clair, St. Charles, or St. Francois counties, call the Missouri criminal defense attorneys at Henderson & Waterkotte, P.C. Our lawyers offer free consultations and are available 24/7 in order to protect your rights from the very beginning of any criminal case.