If you have been charged with a crime, you are probably asking yourself whether you should accept a plea bargain. This depends not only on your personal life situation but also the facts and circumstances specific to the legal case being brought against you.
For this reason, you should consult with an experienced Lansing criminal defense attorney if you want to know whether accepting a plea deal is a good idea in your case.
What Exactly Is a Plea Bargain?
The majority of criminal cases do not go to trial because usually, the defendant agrees to a plea bargain. The terms of a plea bargain may vary from case to case, but they must always be approved by a judge. Generally, a prosecutor will offer the guarantee of a lenient sentence or a diminished charge, and in exchange, the defendant agrees to plead guilty or no contest to the charges. A no contest plea is similar to a guilty plea in that the defendant receives a criminal sentence, but without admitting to wrongdoing.
In some cases, a plea bargain might hinge on providing the prosecutor with evidence. If you are charged with a crime, and a prosecutor believes that you have evidence that could help to indict or convict another suspect, the prosecutor may offer you a deal if you agree to testify against that other suspect. These types of deals usually occur in the context of organized crime or drug trafficking investigations involving multiple suspects of varying degrees of importance.
How to Make Sure a Plea Bargain is Right for You
When you are facing criminal charges, you could find yourself pressured into accepting a plea deal from your criminal defense attorney and the prosecutor. In these situations, it’s important to step back and try to determine whether a guilty plea is truly in your best interest. Every case is different, but in general, accepting a plea bargain is a good idea when:
- Your case qualifies for deferred prosecution, which is usually available only to first offenders.
- The prosecutor is offering a lenient sentence or simply probation.
- Your conviction is for an offense that is eligible for expungement.
- You cannot afford to take your case to trial, either for financial reasons or the risk of your private life becoming public record.
- There is overwhelming evidence of your guilt available to the prosecutor.
- You can afford a blemish on your permanent criminal record.
A criminal defense attorney can analyze your case and explain how each of these issues apply to your situation. It is essential to be aware that if you are working with a criminal defense attorney from the public defender’s office, their advice may be biased. These public defenders often handle dozens of clients at the same time. They may not have the time to look deeply into your case and may be motivated to push your case through as fast as possible.
When a prosecutor is trying to convince you to accept a plea bargain, it is essential to remember that their number one goal is to get a conviction. They are not acting in your best interests, and may not even be truthful with you. For example, the prosecutor may exaggerate the strength of the evidence against you, or use other manipulative techniques to convince you to accept the deal. In any event, having a criminal defense attorney to assist in these negotiations will generally result in a much better deal.
A Lansing Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help
At DeBruin Law, PLLC we can effectively negotiate beneficial plea bargains on behalf of our clients. We will not let the prosecution push you around. Additionally, in the event a trial is in your best interest, we will aggressively advocate for your innocence.