The 411 on Plea Bargains
If you have recently committed a crime, you may need to do some time. However, there are instances where you can plead down your charge, reducing penalties and time you may need to spend in jail or under house arrest. Known as a plea bargain, making this agreement can be beneficial or problematic depending on your specific situations. Of course, an estimated 90 percent of criminal cases are disposed of using a plea bargain of some sort. Whether in criminal trouble related to burglary, DUI, assault, or another charge, this guide will help you understand a plea bargain and if it is the right option for you and your case.
The 411 on Plea Bargains
Before you agree to one, you need to understand what a plea bargain actually entails.
Basically, a plea bargain is an agreement between you and the prosecutor that requires that you plead guilty or "no contest" to a charge as long as another charge against you is dropped. A plea bargain can also be used to reduce or lower more serious charges against you.
For example, if you caused a serious accident while driving under the influence, the plea bargain may entail you pleading guilty to driving under the influence with the reckless driving/accident damage charges being dropped.
Categories of Plea Bargains
The category of plea bargain that you should agree to will depend on your specific case, if you are legitimately guilty or not, and if you have had any previous criminal issues or convictions. Your lawyer will help you decide if a plea bargain is right for you and which type of plea is best suited to your specific needs.
The most common types of plea bargains are charge bargaining and sentencing plea bargains.
With a charge plea bargain, prosecutors will agree to drop or reduce charges to charges less severe in exchange for you, the defendant, pleading.
In a sentencing plea bargain, you, the defendant, will agree to the guilty charge, but the prosecutor will push for the judge to give you a shorter, less severe sentence. In a murder charge, for example, a sentencing plea would require that the defendant plead guilty to murder with life in prison as a sentence instead of being sentenced to death.
It is important to note that each and every case is unique. Therefore, a simple charge plea bargain may be broken down into more involved categories.
Benefits of Plea Bargains
Dropping or reducing charges against you is the main benefit of a plea bargain, especially if your case will most likely be going to trial. However, there are other advantages to agreeing to a plea bargain.
Breaking the law comes with many costs, and these costs can wreak havoc on you and your family's emotional and financial wellness.
Plea bargains can be finalized quickly, reducing the amount of physical and emotional stress you and your family will need to deal with if your case goes to court. In addition, plea bargains can reduce the financial distress of your crime. By agreeing to the plea bargain, you will spend less money on attorney and court fees.
Disadvantages of Plea Bargains
Finally, you should know that plea bargains are not always a good idea. Whether pleading guilty is the right option will depend on your specific case, so it is important to weigh out the pros and cons of pleading.
If you are legitimately not guilty, taking your case to trial may be the best solution for proving your innocence. While it will be a long, costly experience, trial may be a worthwhile investment.
For assistance with your or a loved one's criminal charge, contact your attorney today.