What is a Plea Bargain and Should I Take One?

A plea bargain speeds up the court process by allowing guilty defendants to admit guilt, and they allow those defendants to receive lower punishments by admitting guilt.

Plea deals have become an integral part of the criminal justice system in the United States. Without them, there would be no way for the system to operate, because so many people are charged on a daily basis. Keep reading to learn vital information on plea bargains and why you should or shouldn’t take one if you have been charged with a crime.

a defendant signing a plea bargain

Why Turn Down a Plea Bargain?

There are several reasons why signing a plea may not be in your best interest. For starters, you may not have committed the crime. The system is imperfect, and it is far too common for innocent individuals to be arrested. Why would you ever want to admit guilt for something you didn’t do? You wouldn’t.

Another reason you might say no is because you have a strong case. You may choose to proceed to trial to avoid having a criminal record. Because any plea bargain counts as a conviction and will follow you until it is expunged it is worthy of heavy consideration.

Lastly, you may turn down a plea bargain because you waive the remainder of your legal rights under the Constitution of the United States. Once you sign a plea bargain, you better be ready for the specifications outlined within it, because you’re basically stuck with it, no matter what.

The Benefits of Taking a Plea Deal

On the other hand, there are many reasons why signing a plea bargain is an exceptional option. First, you are most likely going to get a lighter sentence. This can happen as a recommendation from the prosecutor, or you can plea to a lesser charge (ex. 2nd degree murder down to manslaughter).

Accepting a plea bargain also eliminates the longevity of a jury trial. This not only protects you from the stresses of trial, which can have effects beyond just yourself; it also can save you money. Trials are expensive, calling for hours of work by your lawyer. In short, if you have a weak case, agreeing to a plea deal may be the best option for you and your family.

What we at Polk Law Recommend

Plea bargains have a reputation of being something you take when you have a court-appointed attorney, while hiring a private attorney means being pushed into trial. Ultimately, it is up to the defendant to make the decision they believe is in their best interest. Here at Polk Law, we understand the many intricacies of plea bargaining and support clients in weighing all their options prior to signing or declining a plea agreement. Every plea deal is different, and it is important to fully understand one before taking it.

If you do decide to pursue a plea agreement in lieu of trial, we will work diligently with the prosecution to ensure you obtain the most desirable result. We will not blindly accept the first offer made by the prosecutor. We will point out and expose weaknesses in the prosecution’s case; whether it be filing pre-trial motions or through discussions with the prosecutors. Typically, when the prosecution’s case is weakened, they will be more inclined to agree to a more favorable plea.

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