Should I take a plea deal?
What are the potential benefits and disadvantages of taking a plea deal versus going to trial?
Important: This is not meant to tell you what to do in your specific case. Each case is different and requires an experienced criminal defense lawyer’s advice before deciding whether to take a plea deal or go to trial. This post is only meant to provide general information.
What is a plea deal?
A plea deal, or plea bargain, is an agreement between the prosecutor and the defendant where a defendant pleads guilty to one or more charges in exchange for a sentence agreed upon by the prosecutor and the defendant. Plea deals may include jail time, probation, fines, or treatment programming depending on the seriousness of the charges. A good plea deal should give the defendant a lighter sentence than they would receive if they were to lose at trial.
What are the benefits of a plea deal?
A plea deal is beneficial to a defendant if they are receiving a lesser sentence than they would receive if there was no deal. The defendant can plead guilty knowing what their sentence will be before it is imposed by the judge. If the defendant does not take a deal, and is found guilty, it will ultimately be up to the judge to decide the sentence based on each sides’ arguments. This often means that the defendant receives a harsher sentence than they would have received had they taken the deal.
What are the disadvantages of a plea deal?
One of the biggest disadvantages is that defendant gives up their right to a trial when they plead guilty. Instead, the defendant has to admit that they are guilty of the crime. This can be a difficult situation if you feel that you might be found not guilty by a jury or a judge.
How do you decide if you should take a plea deal or go to trial?
Each case is different, and so this question can only be answered by a criminal defense lawyer who has reviewed your case completely. An experienced criminal defense lawyer will be able to help you understand factors that would be beneficial at trial and factors that would hurt your case at trial. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of your case will allow you to better evaluate if the plea offer is a good plea deal. This involves reviewing all of the evidence and understanding any mitigating factors in your case.
The Attorneys at Sieben & Cotter are experienced criminal defense attorneys that can advise you on your options in your case. For a free consultation, call 651-455-1555, or send a request for more information.