Plea deals are only appropriate in certain cases

Criminal cases are handled in a variety of different ways. While many true crime shows make it seem like the majority of cases go to trial, that’s not reality. The majority of criminal cases are resolved through plea deals instead of going through a full trial. These agreements between the prosecution and the defense can potentially result in benefits for both sides.

For prosecutors and courts, plea deals free up space on the docket and allow resources to be spent on cases that are difficult to resolve. For defendants, accepting a plea deal can offer a quicker resolution and potentially less severe consequences than if convicted at trial. However, the decision to accept a plea deal is significant and requires careful consideration of the implications for one’s future. Accepting a deal isn’t the best course of action for every defendant.

Understanding the terms of a plea deal

Before accepting a plea deal, defendants must fully understand the terms and conditions. This includes knowing precisely what charges they are pleading guilty to, the expected sentence and any other obligations or consequences that come with the plea. For example, a guilty plea may impact future employment opportunities, the right to own a firearm or immigration status for non-citizens.

Another consideration is that the defendant likely won’t be able to appeal the conviction or sentence. Most plea deals have specific terms that forbid appeals. Because of this, it’s critical that defendants only consider a plea deal if they committed the crime they’re pleading guilty to. Anyone who asserts that they’re innocent should avoid entering into a plea deal.

Considering the strength of the case

Defendants should evaluate the evidence against them, the credibility of witnesses and the legal arguments at play. They must weigh the risks of going to trial against the certainty of the plea deal’s outcome while keeping in mind that trial outcomes can be unpredictable and sometimes result in harsher penalties than those offered in a plea deal.

This assessment often requires the input of a defense attorney who can provide an objective view of a case’s strengths and weaknesses. Otherwise, a defendant may not be in a position to make truly informed decisions about their rights and options.