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When might defendants benefit from accepting a plea deal?

On Behalf of | Jun 19, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

Although the media might make people think that the average person who has been charged with a crime hires a lawyer and fights all the way to the last moment, that is hardly an accurate representation of the “norm” in the modern criminal justice process.

According to research into criminal trials, more than 90% of criminal cases tried at both the federal and state levels result in someone submitting a guilty plea. So-called plea deals are very common in the modern criminal justice system, and those facing charges often leap at the first opportunity to officially resolve the accusations against them.

Even those who assertively maintain their innocence often plead guilty in the hopes of moving on with their lives and avoiding specific penalties. Eagerness to regain a sense of control over the situation may lead a defendant to accept a plea deal or enter a guilty plea when it may not be the most beneficial solution. The following scenarios may make accepting a plea deal the right choice for a defendant. However, there are a number of situations in which this is not the best option available to someone who hopes to mitigate the risk of severe consequences stemming from their circumstances.

When there is a formal deal offered

Simply entering a guilty plea does not ensure any kind of lenience for the criminal defendant. The judge hearing the case could very well still impose the maximum penalties possible. The most beneficial plea deals often involve an offer to let someone plead guilty to a lesser offense and perhaps limitations on the penalties that a judge will impose. Such deals may require the cooperation of the defendant in the prosecution of another party.

When the state has brought multiple, serious charges

It is a somewhat common strategy for prosecutors to pursue the most severe charges possible after the police arrest someone and possibly to try to develop a single incident into multiple criminal infractions. An arrest for a single incident might lead to many different charges. The more separate charges someone faces and the more severe they are, the greater the combined penalties possible. Pleas can put the defendant in a lower-risk position where they face penalties from one charge instead of several.

In general, criminal defendants may have a hard time weighing their options and making the safest and best choices for themselves given the circumstances. Discussing the situation that has led to someone’s arrest with a criminal defense attorney may benefit those who are contemplating pleading guilty after a recent arrest.

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