Going to court and facing a judge and jury can be intimidating. But when a way out shows itself in the form of a plea deal, it could be in your best interest to pass and continue through the system.
A plea deal could save you stress in the short term, but that doesn’t mean it’s for the best. Make sure you consider the offer on the table carefully before accepting because prosecutorial discretion likely means the state has all the say in the deal they’re offering.
Why the deal
Prosecutors generally don’t provide plea deals out of the goodness of their hearts. They usually have common reasons for trying to make a deal:
- Guaranteeing a conviction: Your trial could prove to be an expensive one, and it can sting if the state invests a good deal of money only to have a jury clear you of any wrong-doing.
- Speeding things up: Prosecutors usually have a lot on their plate, and your plea deal means one less case that must go to trial.
- Leverage in other cases: Your admittance of guilt could be used to pressure others into plea deals, or used against them during their trial.
A costly bargain
Accepting a plea deal can have perks for the prosecutor, while you’re left paying the price:
- You’re waving your right to an impartial courtroom process
- Strict sentencing guidelines don’t apply to prosecutors like they do judges
- Your bargain could depend on age, gender and skin color as much as evidence.
Understanding plea deals and how they relate to your case can make a big difference in how you handle your charges. Make sure you know what you’re getting and what you’re giving up when you accept a plea deal, and if it really is the best option for you moving forward.