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When Should You Consider Taking a Plea Deal?

Posted in Preliminary Hearings FAQ'S on November 24, 2017

Today’s criminal justice system suffers from too much work and too little staff. The burden on the justice system often makes it advantageous for both sides to reach an agreement that does not result in a case going all the way to trial. For the judiciary, this presents an attractive reason to approve plea bargains. Prosecutors also have an incentive to reduce their caseload by accepting plea agreements. Additionally, a plea agreement guarantees the prosecution a conviction, something which they might otherwise risk in a jury trial. These incentives are a big part of the reason why 90% of criminal convictions now come from plea-bargained deals. Here are some considerations for whether you should accept a plea bargain.

Save Money

If you have retained private counsel, the attorney’s fees may weigh heavily in your decision to accept a plea bargain. Going to trial is often a long process. By accepting a plea agreement, you may quickly resolve the matter saving a great deal on attorney fees.

Reduce Jail Time

If a conviction seems likely, you may be able to significantly reduce jail time by agreeing to accept a plea agreement. A plea agreement could have you serve less jail time, or even get you released on probation or community service. If you still have to serve time in jail, having a reduced sentence usually means that you are eligible for parole that much sooner as well.

Reduce Charges

Getting your charges reduced to less serious convictions may be beneficial to you down the road. For example, reducing a Riverside DUI offense to reckless driving now, may be expensive in the short term, but a second DUI offense may carry mandatory jail time. Also, you may consider that some jobs may not be able to hire those convicted of a felony. Felons often cannot vote or possess a firearm.

A Less Socially Unacceptable Charge

Some charges may not carry significantly heavier sentences, but they can be socially more stigmatizing. Pleading a rape charge down to assault may be easier to present to friends or family. Also, if you still face prison time, convictions on child molestation may risk retribution from other prisoners that an assault charge does not.

When You Should Not Take a Plea Deal

Plea agreements will come through your attorney. In most cases, your attorney will advise you that accepting the agreement is the best way to reduce your charges or sentence. However, your criminal defense attorney may advise you to reject an agreement in certain cases. If you are not guilty and the evidence is strongly in your favor, your attorney may advise you that it is worthwhile to take the case to trial. Also, if you stand a reasonable chance of getting no worse sentence if convicted, it may well be worth going to trial to attempt to establish your innocence. Finally, as the trial date gets closer, it may be possible to negotiate a better plea agreement than the prosecution currently offers.

In consultation with your attorney, carefully weigh the pros and cons of accepting a plea agreement. Your lawyer has your best interests in mind during these proceedings, so take his or her advice into consideration before you decide. If you need a top-rated, award-winning attorney call our Riverside criminal defense law firm today.