Craigslist is a great site to score some pretty awesome deals. You can buy just about anything: clothes, toys, furniture, cars, even your house. However, with all online sites, there is the possibility for fraud. In fact, this past week a couple was charged with scamming unsuspecting buyers by selling properties on Craigslist that they didn’t actually own. The two used phony paperwork impacting real properties.
Bernard Hardrick and Latonia Fletcher seemed to be trying to take advantage of the vacant housing crisis in Detroit. They were both charged with selling properties that they did not own. The two collected thousands of dollars in down payments and then were charging and collecting rent on these properties.
Hardrick was found guilty of 22 charges which includes criminal enterprises and filing a fraudulent conveyance affecting real property, according to the Detroit Free Press. Fletcher is expected to receive probation in exchange for a guilty plea. How should one know when to plead guilty?
What is the Penalty for Property Fraud?
It is first important to understand that the charges will be harsher for Hardrick then for Fletcher for a few key reasons. The first is that he is a repeat offender on parole. He has arrested for armed robbery and theft. The other huge mistake that Hardrick made was that he decided that he would represent himself on the first day of trial. During this time, he said that he, “Proudly exclaimed he would have continued selling the properties he didn’t own because he deemed them vacant and abandoned at the time.”
If you are being charged with a similar crime, it is important to understand the key role your past plays in your sentencing. Having a record and greatly impact your sentencing.
When defendants enter a negotiated plea, they are immediately giving up trial rights. The judge will make sure that the defendant understands what they are giving up.
The next step that will be taken in a plea deal is that the prosecution and the defense will work out a deal that both parties are in compliance with. A court hearing will be scheduled and this agreement will be shared with the judge.
The Role of a Judge in A Plea Case
The judge must accept the changes and be satisfied with both sides. It is pretty typical for a judge to agree to the plea bargains if the agreed upon sentences are reasonable and within the range of the penalty for the crime. While this is typically the response, you cannot guarantee that this will happen. Many factors can play into this decision and can simply come down to if a judge woke up in a good mood.
The defendant will have to state on record their guilty plea. The sentencing can happen at that time, or a later hearing might be scheduled. For more severe cases, a later sentencing will most likely be scheduled. This is also the time where the judge will make extremely clear what the defendant in giving up by pleading guilty.
Should You Plead Guilty?
Choosing to plead guilty is a case by case situation and may not be the best decision for you. Having an experienced defense attorney representing you is crucial. He or she will help walk you through all your options. A competent attorney can spell out what you can expect and give their best recommendations. Seek help and guidance from those that do this work on a daily basis. Please call my office today.
248-348-7400 or 586-530-1000