What Kind Of Deal Is This? Know About Plea Deals
After an arrest, almost everything can seem stressful. Unfortunately, it is precisely during this very stressful time that many of those accused of crimes find themselves having to make some tough decisions. One of those important decisions is whether or not to accept a plea deal. If you have been arrested and presented with a plea deal, it's vital that you not sign anything without knowing all about the ramifications. Read on to find out more.
Why a Plea Deal?
Plea deals (or plea bargains) allow the state to elicit a guilty plea without having a court trial. Doing things that way saves the state both time and money. The way plea deals work is simple. The defendant is offered a deal. If they agree and sign it, they appear before the judge and are immediately sentenced. It happens fast — often within a matter of days. If you go to trial, you might wait months. You might have noticed that the benefit of plea deals seems to be mostly on the side of the state. In some cases, the defendant benefits too.
Evaluating a Plea Deal
Trying to make a decision on a plea deal without the help of a criminal law attorney is like trying to paddle a boat with a garden rake. Most defendants are unaware of the potential consequences of going to trial vs. agreeing to a plea deal. Plea deals depend quite a bit on the evidence the state has against you. If they have very little evidence and a weak case, a plea deal may be the best way for everyone to end the case. You must realize, however, that a plea deal automatically deprives you of your rights to a trial. Here are some talking points to discuss with your lawyer when deciding on a plea deal:
- Review the evidence the state has against you. The less they have, the better able your lawyer will be to make a good deal for you.
- Review your own evidence. In some cases, it pays to take your case to trial. In any event, your lawyer can share your evidence with the state and negotiate from there.
- Know about sentencing. When you agree to a plea deal, you are talking about being convicted of a crime, and some crimes carry minimum sentencing guidelines. Find out what the typical penalty is for the crime that you are about to plead guilty to before you make a decision.
Accepting or turning down a plea deal can be a big move with grave consequences. Discuss things with your criminal defense attorney and move forward with an informed and professionally advised decision.