Getting arrested is stressful. Facing criminal charges that could damage your quality of life is even worse. In the stressful aftermath of an arrest, it can be tempting to jump at the first plea deal offered by a prosecutor, especially when they start talking about the severe charges they will bring against you if you don’t.
If this is happening to you, stay calm and contact a criminal defense attorney. While a plea bargain might be in your best interest, it’s important to know that these deals are negotiable. A defense attorney will be able to help you figure out if making a plea bargain is the best decision for your defense, and if it is, they will help you negotiate the best possible deal for your case.
Here at Leyba Defense, our expert criminal defense team has years of experience helping defendants navigate their way to a better future and so we have put this article together to help you understand the pros and cons of making a plea bargain.
What Is A Plea Deal?
A plea deal is an agreement made between the defendant and the prosecution. This is where the defendant pleads “guilty” or “no contest” in return for a reduced charge, dropped charges, or negotiated sentencing.
When deciding whether or not to begin the plea bargain process, it’s important to understand that doing so is an admission of guilt. You won’t be able to plead “not guilty”. What you’re getting in exchange for your cooperation is the ability to negotiate what happens to you after you plead “guilty” or “no contest.”
The Pros of Making a Plea Bargain
Plea Bargain Pro #1: Avoid more severe charges
The biggest benefit of making a plea bargain is that doing so can help you avoid more serious charges. Certain criminal convictions can have a serious impact on your ability to find employment, housing, or even vote. By striking a plea deal you improve your chances of getting your charge reduced to a less serious offense. As a result, means keeping your record clean and preserving your ability to live a normal life.
Plea Bargain Pro #2: Reduce the number of charges against you
You may be facing multiple criminal charges. If so, striking a plea deal with the prosecution may reduce the number of charges they bring against you — resulting in a lighter sentence.
Plea Bargain Pro #3: The plea deal process can help you avoid trial
Striking a plea deal means you get to skip the trial. Not only does this mean your case wraps up quicker, but it also means saving a lot of money since hiring a criminal defense attorney for the duration of your trial can get expensive.
Plea Bargain Pro #4: Making a plea deal lets you know exactly what will happen to you
The mystery of going to trial can be frightening and extremely stressful. By making a plea deal, you are able to negotiate the terms of your sentencing. This means you will know exactly what consequences you will have to endure and for how long. No more mystery.
The Cons of Making a Plea Deal
Striking a plea bargain does come with its share of cons and risks though. You need to consider and balance the pros and cons of making a plea bargain when deciding which path your defense will take.
Plea Bargain Con #1: You lose your chance of being found not guilty
Striking a plea deal means you waive your ability to plead “not guilty” and lose all possibility of being found “not guilty” by a judge or jury.
Plea Bargain Con #2: You lose your ability to challenge evidence
Another disadvantage of making a plea bargain is that you void your chance to challenge or examine the evidence brought against you.
Plea Bargain Con #3: It is extremely difficult to appeal a plea bargain
Once a plea deal is agreed to, it is nearly impossible to appeal your deal or to renegotiate the consequences. This means that whatever plea deal is offered and accepted is what you will have to accept and live with.
Don’t Make The Plea Bargain Decision On Your Own
It can be tempting to accept what looks like a promising plea deal from the prosecution — don’t. To ensure that your case achieves the best possible outcome it is critical that you speak with a skilled defense attorney before making a decision.
Prosecutors are not your friend. While it may seem like they are trying to do you a favor, there are many situations where the prosecution extends a plea deal as a bluff. They do this knowing that you have a solid defense that could beat them in court.
Don’t make this life-altering decision on your own. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with expert criminal defense attorney Matthew Leyba. After discussing the details of your case he will be able to confidently tell you whether or not a plea bargain is the best option for your defense. You can also browse our criminal defense resources to learn more about your defense options.