A criminal conviction can have long-lasting implications. It can lead to jail or prison time, an oppressive fine, damage to your reputation, and a criminal record that may haunt you for some time to come. Prosecutors might try to convince you that the best way to avoid the harshest penalties, though, is to agree to a plea deal. Although what the prosecution offers you might seem a lot lighter than the penalties threatened against you when you were initially charged, you shouldn’t necessarily jump on the deal.
Why a plea deal may not be your best option
There are several reasons why a plea deal may not be right for you. They include:
- You have strong defense strategies at your fingertips: Depending on your circumstances, you might have some powerful defense arguments that you can utilize to try to completely beat the prosecution and avoid all penalties. This may include evidence suppression, which we’ve discussed previously on the blog.
- The plea deal doesn’t make a big enough of a difference: Although the plea deal offered to you may have lighter penalties, the differences may be smaller than the prosecution makes them out to be. That’s why you need to carefully vet any offer made to you by the prosecution so that you understand what’s still at stake. If the plea deal isn’t worth taking, then you may not have much to lose by taking your case to trial to try to obtain an acquittal.
- You’re completely innocent: Even if a plea deal seems good, it won’t mean much to you if you’re innocent. In those circumstances, you probably just want to beat the charges at all costs so that you can put this chapter behind you and get back to your normal life.
When you may want to consider taking a plea deal
There are times when taking a plea deal may be your best option. These include the following:
- The deal allows you to avoid significant penalties: A lot of times a plea deal allows you to completely avoid incarceration that otherwise would be an option if the prosecution were to obtain a conviction at trial. For many accused individuals, this is enough to make a plea deal worth taking.
- You want to put the matter behind you as quickly as possible: Criminal charges can leave you with a lot of stress and worry. The uncertainty of it all can make the issue overwhelming. Making matters worse is that the criminal process can drag on a for a significant period of time. If you want to avoid all of the stress associated with it and simply want to move on with life, then accepting a plea deal may be right for you.
- The evidence is stacked against you: Even if a plea deal isn’t as beneficial as you hoped, it might still be your best option if the evidence against you is likely to lead to conviction at trial. In these circumstances, you’ll want to try to negotiate for the best deal you can get given the facts at hand.
An attorney can help you figure out your best course of action
There’s a lot to take into account as you try to figure out whether accepting a plea deal is in your best interests. Make sure that your being thorough as you analyze your case while still being realistic. If you’re worried about how to approach your case, then you might want to consider reaching out to an experienced criminal defense team that can help you determine the best way to protect your future.