Because of crowded court dockets and limited financial resources, prosecutors often try to induce criminal defendants into accepting plea deals. In fact, about 97% of federal criminal cases end in plea bargains.
While accepting a plea may be the right course of action, it may also be the wrong one. Here are three signs you may not want to accept the prosecutor’s offer.
1. You have not explored all options
If you are facing criminal charges, you may want to put the matter quickly behind you. Still, if you have not explored all your options, accepting a plea may be premature. After all, you may have the possibility of avoiding criminal consequences altogether.
2. You do not understand the plea
For a plea to be valid, you must knowingly accept it. That is, you must understand what the plea entails, including its consequences. If you do not understand the plea, you should wait to accept it until you have answers to all your questions.
3. You did not commit the crime
There are usually a few advantages to taking a prosecutor’s plea deal. If you go this route, though, you admit guilt. Doing so may brand you with a criminal record for the rest of your life. Consequently, if you simply did not commit the crime, you may not want to say you did.
Even if prosecutors do not have enough evidence to prove you committed a crime, they may encourage you to accept a deal. Regardless of what you ultimately decide to do, you must carefully weigh the downsides of taking a plea bargain.