If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, the next steps in the process are critical. In many cases, a prosecutor may offer you a plea deal to avoid a lengthy trial and still get a conviction. If you accept the plea deal, you will likely be required to plead guilty to a lesser charge, in exchange for a reduced sentence. However, if you choose to reject the plea deal, you are essentially choosing to take your chances in court. Before deciding what to do, you should consider the pros and cons of accepting a plea deal.
Advantages to a plea deal
There can be many advantages to accepting the plea deal the prosecutor offers you. As mentioned, one of the main advantages is a more lenient sentence or the possibility of having some of the more serious charges against you dropped. Many defendants prefer knowing exactly what is going to happen over the uncertainty of a trial, while avoiding the publicity of a trial. Refusing a plea deal and going to trial could also mean that you end up with more serious convictions on your record and more serious penalties than you would have had if you accepted the deal.
Disadvantages to a plea deal
Pleading guilty to a less serious charge and getting a reduced sentence may sound good in theory, but there are disadvantages to accepting a plea deal. For one thing, it is important to remember that you are still pleading guilty to a criminal charge, even though it may be a lesser charge. That means that you will have a conviction on your criminal record, which good impact your reputation in the community, job prospects, and other areas of your life long after you serve your sentence.
Should I accept a plea deal?
Approximately 90 percent of criminal convictions stem from guilty pleas, while only 10 percent of cases go to trial. Ultimately, accepting plea deal may be in your best interest depending on the circumstances surrounding your arrest and charges. Some factors to consider when making your decision include:
- The severity of the crime/crimes you are charged with.
- The strength of the prosecutor’s case against you.
- The likelihood of a guilty verdict if you reject the plea deal and go to trial.
An experienced criminal defense attorney has likely seen hundreds of cases and can help you make this crucial decision. You and your attorney can work together to decide what is best for you in the long term.