Should you accept a plea bargain?

On Behalf of Longman Jakuback

When you face criminal charges, the prosecutor, in all likelihood, will offer you a plea bargain. Should you accept it?

FindLaw explains that a plea bargain consists of an agreement between the prosecutor and you and your lawyer to do certain things in exchange for your doing certain other things.

Common plea bargains

The two most common forms of plea bargains are charge reduction and sentence reduction. In a charge reduction bargain, the prosecutor agrees to dismiss the original charges against you if you agree to plead guilty to other lesser charges. In a sentence reduction bargain, the prosecutor agrees to recommend to the judge that he or she impose a lighter than normal sentence on you if you plead guilty to the original charges against you.

Plea bargain advantages

The main advantage of accepting a plea bargain is that it saves you the expense, time and uncertainty of having your lawyer defend you in a full-blown jury trial.

Plea bargain disadvantages

Despite their financial and other advantages, however, plea bargains have serious disadvantages, the main ones as follows:

  • You give up one of your fundamental constitutional rights, i.e., the right to trial by a jury of your peers.
  • Your guilty plea has the same effect as a conviction.
  • The judge need not follow the prosecutor’s sentencing recommendations.
  • Your guilty plea makes it highly unlikely that you can overturn your conviction on appeal.

Bottom line, before accepting any plea bargain, discuss it at length with your lawyer so you understand the exact nature of the agreement and the likely consequences that will follow.

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