Facing criminal charges can be a terrifying ordeal. Your future is on the line, and you have a long process ahead of you before you know the path your life will take. Will you spend years in prison, or will a California jury find there is not enough evidence to convict you.?
Perhaps the prosecutor is offering you another option. If you are looking at felony charges related to drugs, violent crimes or other offenses, you may receive an offer of a plea bargain. Before you accept any deals, you would be wise to discuss your alternatives with an attorney who can guide you in determining whether a deal is in your best interests.
Weighing the pros and cons
Understanding the motives for offering a deal is important. The prosecutor may make it sound as if a plea deal is the best you are going to get and that a jury will certainly convict you. It is possible that the deal you are hearing requires you to provide information about another defendant. At the least, prosecutors will try to obtain a quick conviction without the time and expense of a trial. You may benefit from a plea deal in the following ways:
- The charges against you may drop from felonies to misdemeanors.
- Prosecutors may offer to drop the most serious charges against you.
- You may receive a less-severe sentence or perhaps probation.
- You may avoid the risk that a jury will convict you for more serious crimes if the evidence weighs against you.
However, a deal is the same as a conviction. You may agree to accept a lesser charge, but the conviction on your record may have an impact on your future nonetheless. Some cons to accepting a plea deal may include the following:
- You may feel pressured to accept a guilty plea for a crime you did not commit.
- A conviction may result in the loss of any professional license you may hold.
- You may have difficulty finding or maintaining your job with a conviction on your record, especially if the deal did not remove the felony count.
- You may still end up spending time in jail.
- A plea deal usually means you give up your right to appeal.
It is understandable if you are confused about the offer the prosecution is making. There are many factors to consider, and you would do well to obtain as much solid legal information as possible before deciding if a plea deal is in your best interests.