The short answer is probably not. In New Jersey, particularly with indictable offenses, the first plea offer will usually be the best plea offer that the defendant will receive. I’m not saying that just to say it. The prosecutor’s office has rules and regs that it stringently abides by. This is one of them. Turning down the first plea offer, whether it be pre or post-indictment means, in most circumstances means that the next plea offer will be significantly worse than the first.
Is this the case always. Of course not. In some cases, there may be a very good reason to turn down the initial offer. For example, the defendant may be aware of a valid defense to the charge that will not be presentable to a later date. Or, there are instances when the plea offer is so bad that it makes more sense to go to trial, because even if the defendant loses, he may do better at sentencing than the state is offering.
Remember, what is stated in this blog is not meant to be used as legal advice. Every situation is different and you should always contact an attorney before you step foot in a court room in my opinion. Some of the examples I have stated here are just examples and do not mean that it actually applies to your case.
The point is this. You should negotiate the best possible plea offer prior to the first pre-trial conference. Attorney involvement is crucial in the early stages of a criminal matter and a lawyer will be able to spearhead a negotiation before the prosecutor takes the pen to paper and the defendant is forced to make a decision because…if you turn down that offer, chances are you will never see it again. In my opinion, having early attorney involvement will result in the best possible first pre-trial offer.