How to Know If You're Being Offered a Good Plea Deal

How to Know If You're Being Offered a Good Plea Deal

Monzerrath Ortiz
 | 

A plea bargain is an agreement between the defense and prosecution in criminal cases that gives the defendant permission to plead guilty or “not contest” to specific charges, usually in exchange for a minimized sentence.

 

According to the United States Bureau of Justice Statistics, almost 95% of criminal convictions are the result of plea bargains rather than a jury trial.

 

In some cases, plea deals can be beneficial; they might allow you to plead guilty to a lesser offense, reduce your sentence, or dismiss your charges while avoiding a trial. In other cases, a plea bargain can prevent a full investigation and be biased to the prosecution. 

 

From a defendant’s point of view, there are several pros and cons to accepting a plea deal; ultimately, the decision should be carefully weighed with the consultation of a qualified lawyer.

 

Keep reading to learn how to distinguish a good plea bargain. 

 

What does a “good” plea deal look like?

 

For defendants, a plea deal may offer a chance for a more lenient sentencing-- more so than a jury trial. 

 

A few other elements of a beneficial plea deal will typically involve:

 
  • Reducing felony charges to misdemeanor charges
  • Reducing sentencing
  • Avoiding jail time: Depending on the type of charge(s) you face, a plea bargain could help you avoid jail by reducing jail time or eliminating it altogether. Instead, you might be given probation or assigned community service.
  • Less offenses: An attractive plea deal may include having fewer offenses listed on a criminal record. 

Such deals can mitigate or remove the possibility of harsh penalties. That being said, it is highly necessary that you work with a criminal defense lawyer to reach a decision on a plea deal, as they possess the skill and expertise needed to formulate a solid defense strategy and fight for your best interests. 

 

What does a “bad” plea deal look like? 

 

Deciding whether you should accept a plea deal is difficut; it will most likely depend on the specific circumstances of your case, which is why you should proceed with caution.

 

In general, there are several disadvantages of plea bargains that you should look out for. 

  
A major red flag for a plea deal: innocence.


Now, you may be asking why innocent people would choose to plead guilty. Typically, this occurs when the defendant is advised that they are better off accepting the deal because a jury trial would most likely result in a heftier sentence if they are convicted. 

 

A 2019 report published by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) found “there is ample evidence that federal criminal defendants are being coerced to plead guilty because the penalty for exercising their constitutional rights is simply too high to risk.” 

 

Plea bargains are presented as the defendants’ best option. They will often emphasize that the cards are stacked against them-- whether it’s due to insufficient evidence to prove their innocence, or a high chance that a jury will find them guilty-- rejecting the deal may place them at risk of facing the maximum possible sentence. 

 

A few other signs of a bad plea deal:

  • There is substantial evidence available to prove your innocence, especially to a jury. 
  • You’re giving too many concessions: if a plea deal only offers a few benefits in exchange for waiving your right to appeal, taking the deal may do more harm than good (but not for the prosecution). 
  • You’re being overcharged: Overcharging is a prosecutorial strategy that involves adding more charges that are difficult to prove in order to pressure defendants into accepting a plea deal. 
 It’s important to remember that accepting a plea deal means giving up the right to a trial by jury; and therefore the evidence used by the prosecution will not be challenged. 
 

Additionally, because plea deals usually require admitting guilt, the process of conviction is sped up. This means there is less time for a thorough investigation to prove your innocence. 

 

Before accepting a plea bargain, the best course of action is to consult with an experienced criminal attorney that can assist you with navigating the advantages/disadvantages of the deal; they are also best-equipped to assess whether the evidence presented against you can be disputed. 

 

With LawChamps’ simple and quick sign-up process, you can get matched with a qualified lawyer that will meet your legal needs. 

 

LawChamps is ready to connect you with an attorney that will help you determine the path you should take and ensure your plea deal is fair and beneficial. 

 

 

This article is intended to convey generally useful information only and does not constitute legal advice. Any opinions expressed are solely those of the author, not LawChamps.

 
Monzerrath Ortiz

Find My Lawyer

Start by selecting your legal need:
Business / Employment

Business / Employment

Family / Personal / Injury / Immigration

Family / Personal / Injury / Immigration

Criminal Defense / Civil Rights

Criminal Defense / Civil Rights

Real Estate / Housing

Real Estate / Housing

Estate Planning / Power of Attorney

Estate Planning / Power of Attorney

Review & Rating Images LawChamps
LawChamps Reviews

"I was able to find just the right lawyer for my case. It was easy to use."

Lucy Coutinho

Client

Review & Rating Images LawChamps
LawChamps Reviews

"Very easy for me to get connected with an experienced attorney."

Robert Knox Jr

Client

Review & Rating Images LawChamps
LawChamps Reviews

"It was super easy. It was super fast and I got connected pretty quickly."

Lenasia Smalls

Client

Client Testimonial - Triso Valls
LawChamps Reviews

"It’s easy to register and match with a lawyer according to your legal [need]."

Triso Valls

Client

Ready To Get Started?

Find Your Lawyer NowLawChamps Arrow Icon

Related Posts

How to Get Your Record Expunged or Sealed in Florida

Susan R. Miller | 24 March, 2021

 Let’s say your younger years were a bit wild and you broke the law and got yourself arrested. Or maybe you were going through a particularly difficult time an...

Read More Arrow Icon

How to Get Your Record Sealed or Expunged in Texas

Jane Meggitt | 22 March, 2021

A criminal record, even for a minor crime, limits a person’s life in numerous ways. They are ineligible for certain jobs, housing and student loans. A long-ago run-...

Read More Arrow Icon

Getting out on Bail in Georgia

Stephanie Cortes | 18 March, 2021

This week, tourists flocked to the Tybee Islands and Savannah in Georgia to let loose during Spring Break. If you were one of them (or your friend was) and got in trou...

Read More Arrow Icon

Related Posts

Hire One, Help Another

LawChamps donates a portion of our revenue, investing it back into funding justice reform organizations and subsidizing the legal fees for those who cannot afford them.
Learn More