If you are charged with a criminal offense, your goal is pretty straightforward: to do everything you can to get off the hook. And one of the options you can consider is accepting a plea bargain.
Basically, a plea bargain is an agreement between the prosecution and the defendant to enter a guilty plea in exchange for a lesser sentence or to have certain charges dropped. The decision to accept or decline a plea deal can be quite difficult to make, especially if you do not understand your rights or what you are getting yourself into.
Why you should consider a plea bargain
One of the main motivations for accepting a plea bargain is a reduced charge that can, in turn, result in a lighter sentence. For instance, a plea bargain can allow you to plead guilty to a misdemeanor rather than a felony which has a more severe penalty if convicted.
A protracted criminal trial can be emotionally and financially draining. A plea bargain allows you to get the matter over with as fast as possible. For instance, accepting a plea bargain when you are charged with a minor offense can help you resolve the case with a single court appearance so you can get back to work.
However, despite its numerous benefits, a plea bargain comes with its share of demerits too. Here are some of the factors you should take into account before accepting a plea bargain:
- You forfeit your right to appeal the sentence – while a plea bargain might result in lenient sentencing, it is important to note that it takes away your right to an appeal should you be dissatisfied with the judge’s sentence.
- You are admitting guilt – accepting a plea bargain basically means that you are accepting liability for a crime. This means that you are bound to have a criminal record if you have none already.
Depending on the circumstances of your case, it is not uncommon for the prosecution to offer you a plea bargain. If you find yourself in this situation, it is important that you explore your options to determine if this is in your best interest.