A plea bargain involves making some concessions with the prosecution in exchange for a lighter sentence or fewer charges. However, there is more to a plea bargain than just making a deal.
Accepting a plea deal means giving up some rights, some of which are enshrined in the constitution. It is why you should not rush into accepting a plea deal without understanding the consequences of what you are getting yourself into. Below are the rights you waive after agreeing to a plea deal.
The right to a jury trial
The essence of a plea deal is to avoid a trial. Therefore, you cannot exercise your right to a jury trial if you plead guilty or nolo contendere (no contest) because it beats the purpose. Without a jury, there is only one expected outcome with a plea deal in most cases – guilty.
The right against self-incrimination
Constitutionally, you have a right against making self-incriminatory statements or taking the witness stand in court. However, pleading guilty means acknowledging and accepting that you broke the law.
The right to cross-examine witnesses
Since there will be no trial, there will be no witnesses to confront or question. The constitution gives you the right to face and cross-examine the witnesses against you, and it is among the various rights you lose when you accept a plea deal.
Are you facing criminal charges?
If you have been charged with a criminal offense, high chances are that you will get a plea deal- it is how the majority of criminal cases are resolved. Therefore, it may be advisable to seek legal counsel as soon as possible to ensure you make the decisions that are in your best interests and protect your legal rights during your criminal proceedings.