Should You Accept A Plea Deal In Your Criminal Case?
When faced with the opportunity to plead guilty in exchange for a lesser sentence, you may be overwhelmed with questions. How do you know if the offer is a good one? Naturally, any offer is unique to the circumstances of the case. In evaluating yours, your best bet is to consult with a trusted criminal defense attorney who is looking out for your best interests.
The Gist of Plea Bargains
What exactly is a plea bargain? Essentially it’s a deal between defendants and prosecutors wherein the defendant agrees to testify against co-defendants and/or to plead guilty to some, or to lesser charges in exchange for the prosecutor agreeing to seek lesser penalties. It benefits defendants who might otherwise face lengthy sentences. Prosecutors get to get rid of one more time-consuming case and write it off as a win. Courts, too, experience relief in an overburdened system, and everyone saves money. Clearly, there are plenty of benefits to go around.
The Negative Arguments
Many, particularly victims of crime, are critical of giving criminals the opportunity to escape what they view as appropriate penalties through a plea bargain. Equally troubling is the fear that police or other misconduct that might be exposed through a trial doesn’t ever become exposed to the public. One thing everyone agrees on is the fact that prosecutorial discretion is so broad that there are rampant discrepancies in sentencing based on irrelevant factors such as race and geography.
To be sure, any and all criminal defendants are guaranteed the right to a trial before a jury of peers. The Constitutional Convention and debates during ratification of the Constitution have no mention of plea bargaining. Nonetheless, the fascinating fact is that under five percent of criminal cases go to trial. Instead, most cases are settled when a plea bargain is struck. Is that the right choice for you?
Why Take a Deal?
What factors should you consider when contemplating whether you should accept a deal? The biggest motivating factor for defendants, whether guilty or innocent, is that it could be the best way to guarantee a lesser sentence. Without the deal, many defendants face years, and maybe even life behind bars. It could mean the loss of a spouse and the growth years of one’s children, or the passing of one’s parents before experiencing freedom again. The possibility of losing so much is oftentimes not worth the risk.
The Best Scenario for You
At Courtney & Mills, our experienced Springfield criminal defense attorneys are dedicated to laying out all the facts so that, together, the best decisions can be made with regard to how to proceed in your case. Schedule a confidential consultation in our office today.