Should You Accept A Plea Deal Or Go To Trial?
You can go to trial or agree to the prosecution’s plea bargain if faced with criminal charges. Deciding whether to proceed to trial or accept a plea deal can be difficult. Most criminal cases do not go to trial. Instead, they are resolved through plea bargains. But does this mean that you should accept a plea bargain and avoid going to trial? Just because most criminal cases are resolved through plea bargains does not mean you should accept a plea deal and avoid going to trial. It would be best if you did not decide to accept a plea deal or proceed to trial before speaking to a qualified criminal defense attorney. An experienced defense attorney who understands the specifics of your case can advise you accordingly.
What Is a Plea Deal?
A plea deal is when the prosecution gives you a chance to plead guilty to a less serious crime than the one you were originally charged with. A plea deal is when the prosecution allows you to plead guilty in exchange for a lighter sentence. Additionally, a plea bargain arises when the prosecution gives you a chance to admit guilt to some of the charges if you face multiple counts.
For example, if you are facing a charge of aggravated assault, and the prosecutor gives you a chance to plead guilty to simple assault, that is charge bargaining. If, for instance, the crime in question comes with a sentence of two years in prison, and the prosecutor offers to reduce the sentence to one year in exchange for a guilty plea, that is sentence bargaining. Sometimes, sentence bargaining is combined with charge bargaining. Lastly, if, for example, you are facing three counts of assault and reach an agreement to plead guilty to one count of assault, that is called count bargaining.
Before deciding whether to take a plea deal or go to trial, you must understand the pros and cons of each option.
Benefits and Disadvantages of Accepting a Plea Bargain
Below are some of the pros of taking a plea deal;
- With a plea deal, you have a degree of control over your sentencing
- Plea bargaining saves time
- Plea bargaining can help you avoid unwanted publicity
- Plea bargaining almost always results in a lesser charge and/or sentence than you would receive at trial
Below are some of the disadvantages of taking a plea deal;
- You waive your right to appeal
- No “not guilty” result
- Criminal record
- Not having a chance to take advantage of problems with the prosecution’s case.
Benefits and Disadvantages of Going to Trial
Pros of taking your criminal case to trial include the following;
- You may be found not guilty.
- You can take advantage of problems with the prosecution’s case.
- You have the right to appeal
- Gives you more time to put your defense together
Disadvantages of going to trial include the following;
- You risk receiving harsher consequences
- Gives the prosecution more time to put their case together
- Trials are public
- Judges and juries are unpredictable
Again, the decision to take a plea deal or go to trial should only be made after you have consulted a defense attorney.
Contact a Fort Lauderdale Criminal Attorney
If you need help with your criminal case, contact our experienced and dedicated Fort Lauderdale criminal attorneys at Joyce A. Julian, P.A.