If you have been charged with a crime, one of the legal options you may consider is a plea bargain. Basically, this is an arrangement between the prosecution and the defendant in which the prosecution offers to reduce the charge or recommends lighter sentencing in exchange for a guilty plea.
While the concept of a plea bargain may be attractive, especially if the evidence against you is compelling and the penalty if convicted is severe, there are a number of factors you need to consider before taking this route. Here are some of them:
The plea deal must be approved by the judge
The judge has the discretion to review the plea deal you have entered into with the prosecution before approval. Meaning, if they feel the recommended punishment is too lenient or does not serve the interest of justice for the crime you have pleaded guilty to, they may reject the plea deal altogether. If this happens, you may have no option but withdraw your plea.
The sentence may still be harsh
Subject to the crime for which you are pleading guilty, you may be facing jail time nonetheless. You really need to consider how this is going to impact your life, family and career. It is important that you have a clearer understanding of the consequences of the original offense as well as the offense you are about to plead guilty to before accepting any offer. Additionally, pleading guilty to a crime could also mean that you may face civil liability if your actions resulted in property damage or personal injury. Finally, keep in mind that you will eventually end up with a criminal record.
You forfeit your rights to appeal
It is important to understand that by accepting a plea bargain, you will be giving up an important right: the right to appeal a conviction. Again, depending on the strength of the evidence against you as well as the crime you are being accused of committing, it is extremely important that you understand this fact.
A plea bargain comes with its share of benefits. However, before accepting any plea deal, be sure to understand what you are getting into.