Most people facing criminal charges opt for plea deals to avoid the uncertainties of a trial or have their charges reduced. But is accepting a plea deal always in your best interests? The short answer is no.
Plea deals are not there to serve you but to help the interests of justice. As such, it’s advisable to understand what you are getting yourself into before taking the prosecution’s offer.
Make no mistake, though, plea bargains are sometimes ideal. It all depends on the particular facts and circumstances of your case and the deal you get. Here is what you should know.
You will lose some constitutional rights
You will be forfeiting certain constitutional rights when you accept a plea deal, such as the right to a fair trial, the right to confront witnesses and the right against self-incrimination. These rights protect you in a court of law, and waiving them can have significant implications for your case.
You will be convicted of an offense
A guilty plea is treated the same as a conviction for all practical purposes. For instance, while your charges may be reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor, you will be convicted of the offense in question and penalized accordingly.
You will also likely lose the right to appeal the sentence if it’s part of the deal, not to mention having the inevitable criminal record. It is also not easy to withdraw a plea deal after sentencing.
Make informed considerations
It’s best to seek legal guidance to evaluate the situation, explore alternative options and help protect your interests. Factors such as the strength of the prosecution’s evidence against you or mitigating factors in your case can help you decide whether to accept or reject a plea deal.