Skip to main content

Ethics in predicting a plea negotiation?

Palo Alto, CA |
Filed under: Professional ethics

My attorney is telling me that the judge has requested my appearance in court at the next hearing so that we can settle the case. He is supposed to talk to the DA between now and then and work it out. He told me what he intends to negotiate. He said he cannot ethically guarantee me anythong but he is confident.
I live out of state..charged with felony 487 under $2, 050. I have one prior conviction of the same charge from 6 years ago. Same county, no jail time, probation and community service completed flawlessly. He said he wants to negotiate a drop to a misdemeanor in exchange for some sort of restitution, fine and arrange community service for me in my state.
Considering my 1 prior is that a reasonable deal that can be worked out? If he says he is confident does that mean he knows ?

Attorney Answers 4


  1. Best answer

    It's impossible for any lawyer to predict the outcome of plea negotiations... especially a stranger on the Internet who only knows what you've posted.

    What does "confident" mean? Ask your attorney exactly what he means.

    If I was the one saying it (and I'm not), it would mean, "Based on my experience with this particular DA and judge, I think there's a pretty strong chance that we can get the case resolved this way; however, I can't guarantee that it will work out that way."

    Of course, it isn't helpful that you committed the same crime again, six months later. Your attorney knows all about you, and may have some evidence that you've turned your life around this time.

    PLEASE READ BEFORE CONTACTING MY OFFICE: My office is located in Chico, Butte County, California. I offer free consultations to potential clients whose cases are in counties within a 100 mile radius of my office. In order to represent someone who lives outside that area, I would have to charge enough to pay for several hours of travel time to each court appearance. If you're outside that area, it will be more cost-efficient to hire an attorney who practices in your community. I do not accept telephone calls regarding my posts on Avvo. If you need more information, please use the "comments" button or post another question. This is a general discussion of legal principles by a California lawyer and does not create an attorney/client relationship. It's impossible to give detailed, accurate advice based on a few sentences on a website (and you shouldn't provide too much specific information about your legal matter on a public forum like this site, anyway). You should always seek advice from an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction who can give you an informed opinion after reviewing all of the relevant information.


  2. Attorneys cannot ethically (or practically) guarantee an outcome in any criminal case, whether in terms of settlement or outcome a trial. Based on the facts presented here, it sounds like the attorney has done exactly what he should in terms of negotiating a settlement to a lesser offense, not making any guarantees, and advising the client of the likely outcome based on his familiarity with the court and prosecutor.

    The author provides answers on this site based on hypothetical questions and fact patterns. The answers provided are for general educational and informational purposes only, and they do not constitute legal advice, which would require a personal consultation and representation agreement. Questions and answers on this site do not create an attorney-client relationship, and the communications are not privileged. Any citizen with a legal issue should consult personally with an attorney and should rely only on legal advice provided in a formal attorney-client relationship.


  3. Absolutely not. It does not mean he "knows." A prediction or goal setting in plea bargaining is based upon an understanding of the facts of the case, the profile of the offender, the experience of the attorney and an understanding of the "atmospherics" of the case and county. From 3000 miles away, it sounds to me like he is too optimistic but let's all hope he's right.

    As an aside, you might want to focus on a new hobby. It doesn't appear you have a lot of talent for undetected criminal activity.

    Good Luck to you. Hope it works out.


  4. First of all I am not a California Attorney. Your attorney has an obligation to be truthful with you at all times and to keep you informed of all significant developments in your case. If he is following the rules than he does not know what the outcome of your case will be and you should take him on his word.
    As to whether or not the contemplated outcome is possible given your record, only a foolish attorney would get your hopes up only to have them dashed in court after traveling form such a distance.
    Trust your attorney—if you don’t, hire a new attorney who you trust.

Professional ethics topics

Top tips from attorneys

What others are asking

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer

Browse all legal topics