Facing criminal charges can seem like a hopeless situation. There are experts in their field making a case against you, and it can feel like it is impossible to win.
When a prosecutor offers a plea agreement, it may seem like an easier way out since the problem seems to be over faster. However, accepting a plea agreement can have significant consequences.
Here’s what you should know about the potential consequences of accepting a plea agreement.
YOU (PROBABLY) CAN’T TAKE IT BACK
If you go to trial and the verdict does not go your way, you likely have options to make an appeal. When you accept a plea agreement, you skip certain steps in the criminal process, including waiving your right to make an appeal.
While there are exceptions where you can withdraw your guilty plea, courts typically only allow it if there was some injustice involved, such as:
- Denial of effective assistance of counsel
- An involuntary plea
- Plea made without knowledge of charge or sentence
Although you may not fully understand the consequences of a guilty plea until after it is too late, a misunderstanding of the consequences is typically not enough to withdraw a guilty plea.
CONSEQUENCES BIGGER THAN SENTENCING
Part of what makes a plea bargain seem like a good idea is the promise of a reduced sentence. However, sentencing is merely one consequence that comes from a guilty plea.
A guilty plea will result in a conviction on your criminal record. Having a criminal conviction could limit your ability to find work or a place to live.
Before you accept a plea agreement, it is essential to talk to an experienced professional who can explain all of the potential consequences that could come from a guilty plea.