No one really expects to find themselves behind bars, but not everyone will stand trial for the crime they've been accused of. Plea bargains are common, particularly for those without extensive records and for relatively minor crimes. These deals might be the best thing ever, or they might not be such a great idea. Read on for some information about how the plea deal process works so that you can make a good decision when the time comes.
What is meant by a plea bargain?
A plea bargain is an agreement where you concede to plead to guilty to a given charge and thus avoid a trial. This can benefit you if the deal results in less of a punishment than the current charge, but plea deals almost always benefit the prosecutor's office most of all. Plea deals are offered when there is a problem with your case, such as weak evidence, but they can also be offered to avoid crowded jails and court calendars. Knowing what evidence the state has against you is key since a weak case might mean you should proceed with a trial, particularly if you are innocent of the charges.
It's Your Decision
While it's certainly wise to speak your defense attorney about any deals offered by the prosecution, you should understand that it's entirely your choice. Discuss the deal with your attorney so that you understand the full implications of accepting the plea deal. You need to know what the punishment would be without the plea deal and also what to expect if you sign the deal. If the plea bargain terms are not to your liking, you might be able to have your attorney arrange a better deal, but once you commit to the plea bargain, you are held accountable to the agreement.
What happens with a plea bargain?
When you agree to a plea bargain, you will be appearing before a judge to confirm your plea of guilty to a lesser charge or to fewer counts of a particular charge. Remember, by agreeing to a plea bargain you are jettisoning the right to a trial and going straight to the punishment phase of the process.
Only you can make the final decision, but your criminal defense attorney can offer you a lot of support and inside information about the charges and the state's case against you. Speak to a criminal lawyer before you sign anything.
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