Legal Question in Criminal Law in New Jersey

Is taking an ''OPEN PLEA'' a good idea?

My husband is facing some years in jail for a petty fraud charge...He would have gotten probation, but due to his arrest record in the past, (nothing related to fraud), he is facing 3 years...we were told that my husband could take an ''open plea'' in front the judge and his public defender can ask for probation. Also during this open plea, we could have many people come and defend his character...We hear the judge is pretty liberal and wants to see people do better...But of course we are expecting the worst...Has anyone ever taken an open plea, or know anything about it? If it may work out favorably for my husband?

Asked on 3/20/06, 1:28 am

3 Answers from Attorneys

Gary Moore Gary Moore Attorney At Law

Re: Is taking an ''OPEN PLEA'' a good idea?

A petty criminal offense gives rise to no more than six months in jail; the subject offense must be a crime of some magnitude in order that you husband could face years in jail.

Usually, it is helpful to the defendant's cause if people will write letters with supportive contents which are sent to the sentencing judge.

It is in the defendant's interest to make whatever restitution he can prior to being sentenced to demonstrate his genuine remorse rather than intending restitution only when it is required as part of his sentence.

If you can afford to hire an attorney you should

because public defender's are very busy, having hundreds of open cases.

Gary Moore, Esquire

Hackensack, New Jersey

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Answered on 3/20/06, 9:40 am
Lavinia Mears Law Offices of Lavinia Lee Mears

Re: Is taking an ''OPEN PLEA'' a good idea?

Your question is difficult to answer without knowing all of the circumstances of the charge, that state's and the victim's position, your husband's prior record, and the degree of the charge. I have taken open pleas before and had good results when the judge thinks the state is being unreasonable. Sometimes the judge can conference the case in chambers with both lawyers and convince the state to change its plea offer. If you are interested in hiring private counsel, I would be happy to help you. As a former prosecutor and criminal trial lawyer, I have a great deal of experience in this area.

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Answered on 3/20/06, 11:26 am
Jef Henninger, Esq Law Offices of Jef Henninger, Esq.

Re: Is taking an ''OPEN PLEA'' a good idea?

If you are talking 3 years, then it is a 3rd degree offense so its not that petty. We have had clients take several open pleas and they worked out really good. However, we had one Judge tell us that he would give my client one thing at the plea and then hammered him at the sentencing so its a crap shoot regardless. I agree with Mr. Moore, if you really want to help him out, get a private lawyer. You could probably get a good lawyer to just do the sentencing for about $2500.

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Answered on 3/20/06, 2:36 pm

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