If you are charged with a crime, there is a good chance that a plea bargain will be on the table at some point. The prosecution wants a conviction, but going to court doesn’t guarantee one. With a plea bargain, they can generally get a lesser conviction and avoid the risk and cost of going to court. However, a plea bargain also has advantages and disadvantages for you. Accepting a plea deal means giving up certain rights, and you need to know that a plea bargain is worth it before you move forward.
Our team is here to help protect your rights and freedoms as you face criminal charges. Call Coumanis & York at 251-336-3121 to set up a consultation with our team.
How Strong is the Case Against You?
One of the most important factors in any plea bargain is how strong the prosecution’s case is. Your attorney will know how best to assess the strength of their case and evidence, and then guide you accordingly. Your lawyer will look at witness statements, the physical evidence they have, and any other documentation that relates to your case. If there are inconsistencies or weaknesses in the evidence, this can significantly weaken the case against you.
Additionally, your lawyer will explore potential legal defenses for your case. If you have an ironclad alibi, proof that you were defending yourself, procedural errors, or other strong defenses, your defense may outweigh the benefits of a plea bargain.
Your Goals and Best Interests
It is also important to spend some time thinking about your goals and what you want your future to look like. In general, accepting a plea bargain means pleading guilty to lesser charges. While this is obviously better than being convicted of more severe charges, it can put you at a disadvantage in certain areas of life. If you want to work in certain career fields, any type of criminal history could bar you from becoming employed in your chosen field. Certain types of convictions could also work against you in family court, which is something to consider if you have a vindictive co-parent or a divorce in progress.
Basically, think about how life will look for you after each potential outcome. Which ones are you able to live with, and which would haunt you for the rest of your life? For example, some people prioritize their innocence above all else. They will deny a plea bargain every single time if it means getting the chance to prove their innocence, no matter what the potential consequences are. For others, getting through the process as quickly as possible is the most important thing—even if that means spending some time in jail or paying fines.
The Potential Consequences of a Conviction
Your specific charges will also play a significant role in whether or not you accept a plea bargain. If the charges against you are severe enough that you could potentially spend decades in prison, that is a huge risk to take. In comparison, if the worst possible outcome of your current charges is a short prison stay, you may be more willing to risk going to trial.
Numerous factors are at play here. What are the sentencing ranges for your charges? Do you have a criminal record or any aggravating factors that could lead to a judge going harder on you? If you are convicted, do you risk losing your job, immigration status, or voting rights?
The Strength of the Prosecution’s Offer
If the prosecution wants you to waive your rights in exchange for a plea bargain, they have to present a strong enough offer. Your attorney will help you compare the charges against you to the charges you’d plead guilty to, the sentencing recommendations given, and any conditions of your plea deal. You may have to complete probation, do community service, pay restitution, or otherwise make things right in exchange for a plea bargain. Ensure that the concessions you have to make align with your goals and priorities.
Facing Criminal Charges? Contact Coumanis & York
The team at Coumanis & York is committed to helping you explore your options and make the best choices for your future. Let’s get started now—call us at 251-336-3121 or reach out to us online.