Should You Really Take a Plea Bargain in Your Criminal Case?

Despite what you see on TV or in the movies, the vast majority of criminal charges do not result in a lengthy trial. In fact, around 90 percent of criminal allegations are settled through a deal between the prosecution (government) and the defense. Despite this lopsided statistic, though, it is not always the best decision to take a plea bargain if you are facing criminal charges. This blog will offer some considerations we strongly feel you should address if you are weighing your options in this situation. 

Basics of a Plea Bargain

A plea bargain is an exchange between the prosecution and defense. If you are the defendant and you end up taking a plea bargain with the prosecution, you are giving something to get something. What are you giving up? You’re giving up your constitutional right to a trial of your peers, which means you are giving up the chance of being found not guilty and having your criminal record remain clear (or not gain another strike). In most cases, taking a plea bargain means the criminal defendant will not have any grounds for appeal. 

So, what are you receiving? This depends on the particulars of your case. You might be accepting a plea bargain because you will be pleading guilty to a lesser charge (such as admitting to manslaughter when the original charge was murder). In other situations, you might accept a plea bargain in exchange for the prosecution’s recommendation of a lenient sentence or your testimony in a major criminal case. The bottom line is that a plea bargain is a contract.

When might the Prosecution Offer a Plea Bargain?

Each criminal case is unique. There are often two main factors the prosecution considers, though, when deciding whether to offer a plea deal to the defendant:

  • How airtight is the case? If prosecutors are confident they can get a guilty verdict in a particular case, chances are slim that they will offer a lesser plea to the defendant. The more issues the prosecution thinks it has in proving the charges, though, the sweeter the deal will be for the defendant. Remember: prosecutors are elected officials, and they conduct their campaigns on win rates. This can be used to your advantage. 
  • How egregious are the charges? More or less, the prosecution decides whether or not you are, for lack of a better term, a “bad person.” If they truly believe you are a danger to the community or you have an impressive prior criminal record, be prepared for a trial. 

Evaluating Your Options

Without having the complete picture in front of us, there is no way of knowing whether or not you should take a plea bargain that has been offered to you by the prosecution. Even then, the choice is ultimately up to you or your loved one. Our promise to you is that we will painstakingly evaluate every facet of your case to determine a recommended course of action. No matter what you decide, our firm will be right there with you throughout the entire process. Want to discuss your options over a free initial consultation with us? Give us a call today at 864-585-4226.

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Cate & Brough, P.A.

At Cate & Brough, we all have personal experience with family law and family court. We know more than just what the law says about your issue – we know what you are going through.

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