Like most deals, a plea bargain can be either beneficial or harmful to those accused of crimes. Trying to make a plea bargain decision without help from a lawyer is not recommended as will become apparent after reading the information below.
Plea Bargains: They Could be Good for You
The best thing about a plea bargain is the way it cuts short the entire process and avoids a trial. If the state has weak evidence against you, they will be wary of taking things in front of a jury. Not only is there a chance they will lose the case, but it costs a lot of money to hold trials. Plea bargains may also be beneficial for you, the defendant, since signing a document and appearing briefly before a judge is less stressful than a formal court situation in which you have no idea how things will turn out. In many cases, a plea bargain assures a lesser sentence or a lesser charge. For minor crimes like public drunkenness, trespassing, shoplifting, and more, a plea bargain may allow defendants to avoid jail by paying fines.
To find out the true benefit of a plea bargain, your defense lawyer must find out what the state has in evidence against you. Taking that into consideration along with the potential sentencing that could occur if you are convicted through a trial can help you decide if the plea bargain is good for you or better for the state. If the bargain is not to your liking, they are somewhat negotiable in some cases. For example, if you have the cash to pay a fine, you might be able to get the fine reduced for paying immediately.
Plea Bargains: They Might Be Bad for You
The most important thing to understand about a plea bargain is that they deprive you of an important right – the right to stand trial in front of a jury of your peers. A plea bargain is more of a legal agreement than criminal sentencing. Also, when you agree to a plea bargain, you are agreeing to plead guilty to a charge without being tried in court. Unfortunately, plea bargains can be bad for those unable to afford bail and are stuck in jail until their court date comes up. Few are well-served by public defenders who are over-burdened with huge caseloads. To get out of jail, some may be tempted to agree to a plea bargain that is far from their best interests.
Only you and your criminal law attorney can know the value of a plea bargain. Discuss things with your lawyer and know both the good and negative points about the plea bargain presented to you.