Being charged with a crime and going through the whole court process can be scary and stressful. In many cases defendants are offered plea bargains, which can help avoid having to go to trial. In some cases plea bargains are a good idea, while in other situations it may be a better idea to decline the plea deal and have your day in court. Consider the following when contemplating accepting a plea bargain:
What Does a Lawyer Say
If you are charged with a crime, it is in your best interest to hire a lawyer to represent you through the whole process. An experienced lawyer will understand the potential punishments for the type of crime that you are charged with, and he or she will know if the plea bargain that you are being offered is a good deal. Even if you can't afford to hire a lawyer to represent you through your whole case, it is in your best interest to pay for a consultation with a lawyer to go over the terms of a plea bargain before you agree to anything.
What Kind of Evidence Does the Prosecutor Have
Many people falsely believe that the terms of a plea bargain are the best possible scenario that they're going to get. In reality, many defendants in the court system are offered plea deals, and in some cases it is because the prosecutor does not have enough evidence to make a strong case, so he or she is hoping that you will plead guilty and just accept the terms of a plea bargain. As the defendant, you (and your lawyer, if you have one) are entitled to knowing the evidence that will be used against you. If the evidence is weak or circumstantial, you may want to go to trial instead of pleading guilty and accepting the terms of the plea bargain offered.
Are You Willing to Forfeit Your Rights to an Appeal
In most cases, the terms of a plea bargain include giving up your right to appeal the case at a later date. You will be required to plead guilty to the charges outlined in the plea deal, and accept whatever sentence the judge gives; in the vast majority of cases the judge will agree with the sentence outlined in the plea bargain by the prosecutor, but there is always a small chance that your sentence could be harsher than expected. Depending on the unique circumstances of your case, the terms of the plea bargain may be good enough to make up for a criminal conviction that can have long lasting repercussions in your private and public life.