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2 things to remember about plea deals

On Behalf of | Aug 2, 2023 | Criminal Law

If you’ve been arrested for a crime, don’t be surprised if the prosecution eventually offers you a plea deal. It’s estimated that 98% of all federal cases end in plea bargains, and the number isn’t likely much different for state-level cases. 

When going to trial feels a bit like a gamble and the prosecution is offering a “sure bet” in the form of reduced charges in exchange for your guilty plea, it can be very tempting to accept. Before you do, however, there are a few things to remember.

The prosecution wouldn’t offer a deal if there wasn’t something in it for them

You always need to consider the prosecutor’s motives for offering a plea deal in the first place. Plea deals are efficient and they do help keep the criminal court docket from getting overwhelming, but every plea deal goes down as a “win” in the prosecutor’s record. If the prosecutor knows that their evidence is shaky and they may have difficulty at trial, they may be offering you a plea bargain in order to protect their track record.

You give up a tremendous number of rights when you agree to plead guilty

You never want to contemplate accepting a plea deal without taking the following into account:

  • Pleading guilty is treated the same as any other conviction. You’ll still have a criminal record that will follow you around for a very long time. That can affect everything from your ability to obtain employment in certain fields to whether or not you can own a firearm.
  • You give up the right to most appeals. Most plea deals require an admission of guilt and a waiver of your right to any appeals. If you later decide that you made a mistake in accepting the plea or that the sentence is really unfair, you may have very few legal resources available. 

Plea deals are right for some people and some situations – but nobody should take a plea deal without fully understanding both the consequences and their legal rights.