If you are facing serious criminal charges, the prosecution may reach out with an offer. In exchange for a guilty plea, you will receive a lighter sentence or be charged with a lesser offense than you would have had your case gone to trial. This is known as a plea deal.
For the defendant, it takes the uncertainty of going to trial where anything can happen while the prosecution gets to save on time and expenses of a lengthy trial. It sounds like a win-win situation, but you need to be careful before accepting a plea deal. Here is why.
Plea deals are not always in your favor
When you accept a plea deal, you waive some of your rights, such as the right to appeal the sentence handed to you or the right to have a jury trial.
You cannot question any witnesses either and your guilty plea will translate to a criminal conviction, with all that entails.
Should you accept a plea deal?
Whether or not you should accept a plea deal depends on the facts of your case and the evidence against you.
A plea might be your best option, especially when the prosecution has a lot on you and the trial is not likely to conclude in your favor. It may be better to accept the deal than risk a conviction in such a situation.
In other instances, a plea may not be ideal. A plea deal essentially rules out the possibility of a no guilty verdict because you are accepting that you committed a crime. Therefore, it is crucial to have an informed evaluation of your case before agreeing to a plea deal.
It may be possible to beat your original charges with a vigorous defense instead of pleading guilty to a crime you probably never committed.