Facing criminal charges can be a scary situation. Even if you are confident that you have a strong case, knowing the potential consequences can be terrifying.
After an arrest, you may be aware that you could lose your job or face serious penalties. While you await trial, you might hope that a plea deal could help you get through the process faster or with a better result.
Here’s what you should know about plea deals and when prosecutors will offer them.
Do they have to offer one?
The court system tends to be a busy and expensive operation. The primary reason courts will offer a plea bargain is to conserve court resources. When you accept a plea deal, the court can save time and money going through the rest of the trial process. A prosecutor may offer deals, such as:
- Charge reduction. These deals will reduce the type of charge, for example, taking a felony down to a misdemeanor.
- Reduced sentencing. This plea bargain will reduce the amount of jail time or other corresponding punishments, like fines or probation.
- Fact limitations. In rare cases, prosecutors will agree to limit what facts are admissible to keep other evidence from consideration.
While a plea deal is helpful for the court system, judges and prosecutors do not always offer them.
Should I take the deal?
The short answer to whether you accept a plea deal depends as much on your situation as it does on your goals. Before accepting a plea deal, it is critical to consider whether it is in your best interest. Often, once you agree to a plea bargain, you cannot undo it.
If you are considering a plea deal, you should consult with a knowledgeable attorney who can help you understand the advantages and consequences that come with these bargains.