The term “plea bargain” might sound like a good deal, but it should not be taken lightly. It’s a serious agreement in the legal world where someone accused of a crime pleads guilty for a lighter sentence. However, it’s not always as straight forward as it seems. Just like how you need to be careful while bargaining at a market, there are certain things to watch out for when plea bargaining. This article guides you through six key things you need to be aware of when considering a plea bargain.
6 Potential Pitfalls to Keep in Mind During Plea Bargaining
- Understand that Plea Bargains Can Result in a Criminal Record
The first thing to know is that accepting a plea bargain means you’re admitting to a crime. It will lead to a criminal record. Even if the crime is minor, having a record could impact your future, like getting a job or applying for a house.
- Ensure Your Lawyer is Acting in Your Best Interest
Remember, your lawyer should be there to help you if they’re pushing for a plea bargain without properly explaining why. A fraud solicitor might not be in your best interest. Always question and make sure you’re getting the best legal advice.
- Realise Plea Bargains Involve Giving Up the Right to Trial
By taking a plea bargain, you give up your right to trial. It means you won’t have a chance to prove your innocence before a jury. Make sure you understand this fully before agreeing to a plea bargain.
- Know that Plea Bargains Can Lead to Coerced Guilty Pleas
Sometimes, people feel pressured to accept a plea bargain, even if they are innocent. It could be because they fear what might happen at a trial. It’s important to only agree to a plea bargain if you feel it’s truly in your best interest.
- Beware of the Consequences of Pleading Guilty to a Lesser Charge
Even if you plead guilty to a lesser charge, there can still be consequences. For example, you might have to pay fines or do community service. Make sure you know all the consequences before agreeing to a plea bargain.
- Be Aware Plea Bargains Can Lead to Harsher Sentences for Minor Crimes
In some cases, the sentences from plea bargains can be harsh, especially for minor crimes. It’s essential to consider whether the plea deal is fair and just. Always think through this before accepting a plea bargain. Prosecutors often have discretion in determining the charges filed against a defendant. They may offer a reduced charge for minor crimes when plea bargaining.
However, suppose the defendant declines the plea bargain and proceeds to trial. In that case, the prosecution might pursue additional or more severe charges, resulting in a potentially harsher sentence if convicted.
Navigating the waters of plea bargaining can be tricky, but with the knowledge of these six key points, you’re better equipped to make an informed decision. Remember, if you ever find yourself in a situation where a plea bargain is on the table, consult your lawyer, consider all the factors and make sure your decision is in your best interest. After all, it’s your life and your future. Always stay informed and make wise decisions.