The prospect of losing one’s liberty through criminal sentencing always makes the stakes in criminal defense high. In Arkansas, each felony class has associated fines and sentencing periods. Yet both these felony fines and felony imprisonment ranges may offer opportunities for plea bargaining.
In the hands of a skilled criminal defense attorney, a plea bargain may result in reduced fines, a lesser charge, or perhaps probation instead of jail time. For example, the recent sentencing of James Phillip Womack, the son of 3rd District Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, involved such a plea bargain.
Plea Bargaining Results in Suspended Sentence Agreement
Womack was facing multiple drug and firearm-related felony charges, including possession of a controlled substance, possession of a counterfeit substance with purpose to deliver, possession of drug paraphernalia, and possession of firearms. However, his attorney was able to negotiate a plea agreement with the prosecutor. The judge accepted the plea, sentencing Womack to nine years in prison, and a suspended sentence agreement for 15 years after his release. Without the plea bargain, Womack may have been looking at life in prison.
Many defendants have the misconception that plea agreements are available only to first-time offenders. Notably, Womack is a repeat offender, having pleaded guilty to previous drug charges. The truth is that there are many factors that may resonate with the prosecutor during negotiations. In this case, Womack’s struggles with drug addictions may have been a mitigating factor. The struggle has been ongoing, as Womack had previously gone through Arkansas’ boot camp recommendation, a 105-day program designed to help offenders get back on track.
Source: Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, “Womack sentenced to nine years in prison,” April 18, 2019