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  • Writer's pictureCamille Wagner

Understanding a Plea Deal

Plea agreement paperwork use language that may sound foreign. Let's break it down here.

Plea deal

EXAMPLE: You are currently charged by complaint with one count of Assault with Intent to Kill while Armed. If you plea guilty to one count of Aggravated Assault and one count of Carrying a Pistol without a License, the government will reserve step back, waive enhancements, reserve allocution but agree to concurrent sentences, and not indict.


Understanding the Basics:

  1. Aggravated Assault (§ 22–404.01): This charge carries a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years of imprisonment and/or $25,000 with supervised release of no more than 3 years.

  2. Carrying a Pistol without a License (§ 22–4504): This charge carries a maximum statutory penalty of 5 years of imprisonment and/or $12,500 with supervised release of no more than 3 years.

  3. There is mandatory payment to the Victims of Violent Crime Fund the Court must impose. The range is between $100 - $5,000 / charge. Usually, the Court imposes the minimum so you are likely looking at a mandatory payment of $200 to be paid while on release post-incarceration.

  4. Because this involves a gun charge, you would have to register as a gun offender with DC MPD within 24 hours of your release from incarceration You will have to remain registered as a gun offender for the period of your supervision post-incarceration + 2 years after it ends.


Understanding the Language:

  • “reserve step back” - the government is reserving the right to ask the judge to detain you pending your sentencing. Sentencing usually occurs approximately 2 months after a plea is entered into so that probation has time to write a pre-sentence report that will be shared with the Court and parties.

  • "waive enhancements" - the government is waiving their right to file any enhancements that would increase the penalties you are facing.

  • "reserve allocution" - the government is saying that they are not making any promises regarding what they are going to ask the judge sentence you to except there is an agreement from them and us that we will allocate within the voluntary sentencing guideline range applicable to you.

  • "concurrent sentence" - the government promises that they will request that the sentences for each charge run concurrent (at the same time), rather than consecutive (one after the other).

  • "not indict" - the government is agreeing to not bring your case to the Grand Jury for greater charges to include:

  1. Assault with Intent to Kill while Armed, which carries a maximum statutory penalty of 30 years of imprisonment (5 years of which is mandatory) and/or $75,000 with supervised release of no more than 5 years.

  2. Possession of a Firearm during the Commission of a Crime of Violence, which carries a maximum statutory penalty of 15 years of imprisonment (5 years of which is mandatory) and/or $37,500 with supervised release of no more than 3 years.    

  3. Other lesser-included offenses of Assault with Intent to Kill while Armed and other gun charges including Carrying, Unregistered Firearm, Ammunition, etc.


How much time am I looking at?

Assuming you have no criminal history (no prior convictions), your guideline range for the Aggravated Assault would be 18-60months, which is prison, compliant long split, or short split permissible. Your guideline range for Carrying a Pistol without a License is 6-24 months, which is prison, compliant long split, short split, or probation permissible. As mentioned, the sentence for each count would run concurrently (not consecutively), so you are facing a total sentence of 18-60 months.

Note: The guidelines are voluntary (not mandatory), which means the Court is allowed to sentence you below/above your guideline range. It is unlikely but it is important that you understand that no promises are made to you regarding what your sentence will be.

 

Takeaway:

Accepting or rejecting a plea deal is hard enough; you do not need the language in the paperwork to add to the headache. With this blog, Wagner, PLLC, explained the key language but there is more to understand. If you are considering a plea offer, make sure to contact our knowledgeable attorneys to understand your options.


 


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