The Pros and Cons of Plea Bargaining in Criminal Cases
There are a number of intricate details in the court system that detail plea bargaining and the results it could have on your case.
When you’re charged with a crime, there are many options available to you. You may be able to plead guilty, which means that you admit your guilt but also argue for leniency in sentencing. You may also be able to plead not guilty, which means that you don’t admit guilt but instead fight the charges in court.
In some cases, you may be able to plead guilty with a deal. This means that you still maintain your innocence but also accept the punishment for your crime. Plea bargaining is a common practice in the legal system and can be beneficial to both parties involved.
Here are some of the pros and cons of plea bargaining.
Pro: You Can Save Time and Money
You may be able to avoid going to trial, which could take months or even years of your life and result in a much more severe punishment than the one your attorney negotiates on your behalf.
Pro: You Avoid the Stress and Uncertainty of a Jury Trial
If you’re found guilty of a crime, the stress and uncertainty of a jury trial can be overwhelming. You may also want to avoid having your case heard by a jury, which may not understand some of the more technical aspects of your crime.
Choosing a plea bargain may result in a better outcome than taking the chance with a random selection of jury.
Pro: You Can Avoid the Embarrassment of a Public Trial By Plea Bargaining
If you’re guilty but still want to avoid going through a public trial, then taking a plea bargain can help you avoid this embarrassment.
Con: You May Not Be Able to Keep Your Original Defense.
If you opt for a plea bargain, your attorney may be forced to drop any defenses you had originally planned. If you want to argue that your actions were not illegal or that they were justified by the circumstances, this may not be an option.
Con: Your Sentence May Be Harsher Plea Bargaining Than It Would Have Been Had You Gone to Trial
It’s not uncommon for defendants to be given harsher sentences if they decide to plead guilty rather than going to trial.
For example, you might have been facing a year in prison if you had gone through with your trial, but now it looks like your attorney has negotiated a plea bargain that will get you two years instead. But, if you took to trial and won, you’d have no charges whatsoever and would walk free.
Your Choice in Lawyer Could Make or Break Your Case
The most important aspect of any court case is, of course, your lawyer. Picking a criminal defense attorney is a big decision, and it’s important to do your research before hiring someone to represent you. A good lawyer will be able to tell you exactly the plea bargain available in your case, and how it compares with the possible penalties if you were to go through with trial.