Have you been accused of breaking the law? Whether or not you committed the crime, you might be tempted by accepting a plea deal to bring an end to the situation. But is this really the right thing to do?
Accepting a plea deal, even if it results in a much less aggressive punishment, means you’ve admitted you’re guilty of a crime. Criminal convictions follow you for the rest of your life.
Convictions can affect your professional and personal lives. They can cost you Constitutional rights, education opportunities, and access to employment and public benefits. The court might off a tempting deal, but it’s often not the best option available because you risk giving up so much.
Before pleading guilty, it’s important to consider all of your options. Working with an experienced criminal attorney means someone will be there to explain these options and help you explore the pros and cons of each.
Most Plea Deals Seem Beneficial
Prosecutors tend to paint plea deals in a very appealing light. Although it might seem as if they are giving something up with their offer, they are guaranteeing a successful case for themselves. They’ll get a conviction, but not for the original crime for which you were accused.
If you refuse the plea deal and they decide to move forward with the charges (and they might not), they’ll need to prove the accusations against you in court. This could go either way for them, not to mention the time and money it takes to build their case against you. They offer a plea deal because they’d rather get a guaranteed conviction than risk losing their case.
What to Consider If You Decide Not to Accept a Plea Deal?
There are several things to consider before you reject a plea offer. For example:
- Do you have a strong case? Whether you committed a crime or not, it’s important to consider if there’s a lot of evidence in your favor. Sometimes, even an innocent person has a weak case. Unfortunately, this makes them “look” guilty when pleading their case in court. If your case is weak, it might serve you to take the plea deal. This is true despite being innocent because it reduces your risk of severe consequences.
- Are you working with an attorney who gives you confidence they’ll be able to represent you in court? Like all people, attorneys have strengths and weaknesses. You might have an attorney who’s great at negotiating plea deals but isn’t as strong in court. If you’re prepared to take your case to court, you need someone who can act in your best interest in the courtroom.
- Can you afford attorney’s fees? Taking your case to court is an investment. Your attorney works hard in the weeks and months leading up to the court date. If the case is successful, it could mean you walk free and there is no conviction on your record. For many people, this is worth the money they pay their attorney.
- Are you prepared to extend how long you must deal with the situation? The court creates a schedule far in advance. Before making the commitment that comes with turning down a plea deal, make sure you are prepared to deal with the accusations against you for some time to come.
An Experienced Lawyer Helps You Determine Whether a Plea Deal is Right for You
Knowing whether or not to accept a plea deal is one of the biggest challenges faced by people accused of a crime. Working with an experienced criminal attorney can make this decision easier. For more information or to discuss your case with a legal professional, contact David Lindsey.