When facing criminal charges, many defendants feel overwhelmed and unsure of their choices. A plea bargain might seem like a good idea, but there is a lot to consider before accepting. Although the criminal justice system relies on plea bargains to help reduce the number of cases that go to trial, plea bargains can also have significant benefits to criminal defendants.
If you’re facing criminal charges, you should consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer before making any decisions. In this article, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of please bargains, and when you should consider accepting one.
How Do Plea Bargains Work?
In a typical plea bargain, the defendant pleads guilty to certain charges. In exchange, the prosecution agrees to drop charges, reduce the recommended sentence, or offer some other benefit to the defendant. There are several different types of plea bargains. The final resolution, however, usually involves a combination of the different categories.
Charge bargaining involves the prosecutor agreeing to reduce one or more serious charges. In these circumstances, the defendant usually pleads to a lesser charge.
Charge bargaining can also include situations where the prosecutor agrees to dismiss the charges upon fulfillment of certain conditions by the defendant.
In count bargaining, the defendant pleads to certain counts of the indictment. Each count of indictments equals a separate criminal charge. In exchange, the prosecutor agrees to drop the remaining counts.
Count bargaining might also look like the prosecutor agreeing not to file a new complaint or add any additional counts to an original complaint. In exchange, the defendant pleads guilty to some of the previously charged offenses.
This happens in the event the defendant has engaged in new or additional criminal activities.
Sentence bargaining involves the defendant agreeing to plead to certain agreed-upon charges and sentencing. In this scenario, the prosecutor might offer a recommendation for probation instead of jail time if the defendant pleads to certain requested counts.
In fact bargaining, the prosecutor agrees with the defense about which facts of the criminal complaint led to the conviction. This is often used to reduce mandatory sentencing. It occurs most often in regards to drug possession and DUI cases.
When Should You Consider Accepting a Plea Bargain?
When you’re charged with a crime you didn’t commit, your attorney will begin by trying to get the charge(s) dropped by the prosecution, or dismissed by the judge. If neither of those options works, you may consider taking your case to court where your attorney can defend your case in front of a jury in the hopes of getting an acquittal.
If, on the other hand, you are guilty of the charges against you, you may want to consider having your attorney negotiate a plea bargain. This may be your best option if you are guilty and the evidence against you is strong. Visit this website for more information.
Cons of Accepting a Plea Bargain
Although there are benefits to plea bargains, accepting a plea deal can come with disadvantages. Some of these disadvantages are significant and severe. As previously mentioned, the criminal justice system relies on and benefits from the acceptance of plea bargains. Plea deals keep caseloads manageable and out of court so they don’t clog up the system.
You should always think through your options and consult an experienced, trustworthy criminal defense lawyer when considering taking a plea deal. One of the cons of accepting a plea bargain is that you will not have your day in court to undermine the prosecution’s case. If the prosecution’s case is weak, it may be in your better interest to go to trial.
Keep in mind that when the prosecution offers a plea deal, it doesn’t necessarily mean you would have been convicted had your case gone to trial. If you are not guilty of the alleged crime, you may want to fight it. It is very important to understand that once you enter a plea of guilty, you cannot take it back. You won’t have the chance to plead not guilty again.
If you are not guilty or believe yourself not to be guilty of the alleged crime, it can be both emotionally and psychologically traumatic to plead guilty. This can be an agonizing and difficult decision for many defendants and their families.
At the end of the day, you have to balance what’s best for your future against what is in line with your personal values and principles. You also need to understand that pleading guilty to a crime means it will go on your criminal record. In some instances, this is permanent and cannot be expunged.
Pros of Accepting a Plea Bargain
Plea bargains often offer benefits such as a lighter sentence or a reduced charge, or charges. A plea bargain can mean spending less time or no time in jail. A reduced sentence can mean a person who would have been convicted on felony charges gets to plead to a misdemeanor. Pleading to a lesser charge can reduce the severity of the consequences the defendant faces.
Whereas a felony conviction would have meant the loss of certain of the defendant’s civil rights, with a lighter sentence those rights remain preserved. In some cases, a reduced charge may be sealed from the defendant’s criminal record. This means the charge won’t come up when the defendant applies for a job, a loan, or other types of applications.
A plea bargain can save the defendant money by avoiding the need to hire a private attorney. Finally, accepting a plea bargain means your case is resolved and the pain and stress of dealing with it have an end date.
For many people, the resolution of the case alone can provide huge relief.
Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney
Now that you understand the basics of how a plea bargain works, you should consider hiring a criminal defense attorney to help you navigate the legal terms of your plea bargain.