If prosecutors have charged you with a criminal offense, you may be in a hurry to put the entire matter far behind you. After all, the uncertainty that comes with a criminal charge is often more than enough to cause extreme anxiety. While accepting a plea deal may be in your legal interests, the opposite also may be true.
Plea bargains are a way for prosecutors to handle criminal cases without taking them to trial. Often, when defendants accept plea deals, they receive less harsh punishments. Still, if you cannot confidently answer a few questions, you are probably not ready to agree to a prosecutor’s deal.
Did you commit the crime?
If you did not commit the crime, prosecutors may not be able to convince a judge or jury that you did. Still, when you accept a plea deal, you remove the prosecutor’s burden by admitting to committing the crime. If you are not guilty, you may not want to tell the world you are.
Does the prosecutor have a winnable case?
Criminal offenses have elements, each of which prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt. Even if you are not innocent, prosecutors may not have enough evidence to convict you. You may also have some options for defending yourself. Either way, if the prosecutor does not have a winnable case, taking a plea deal may be premature.
Do you understand what the plea deal says?
Plea deals can be difficult to understand. Even if you comprehend the language in the deal, you may not fully appreciate its implications. If you do not know what the plea deal means for you, you likely need legal counsel before accepting it.
Ultimately, because a plea deal is likely to have some consequences for you, it is advisable to explore all your legal options before doing anything else.