In the United States, plea deals are very common. According to a study from the Pew Research Center, only 2 percent of federal criminal cases go to trial. This means the rest of the cases reach a decision through a plea bargain outside of a trial.
Despite the prevalence of plea deals, there are a few things you should understand before deciding if taking a plea bargain is the right move for your case.
What is a plea deal?
A plea deal is a way to reach a resolution in your case without going to trial. The prosecution usually attempts to negotiate a lighter sentence in exchange for your admission of guilt.
Why should I not take a deal?
There are a few reasons a defendant may accept a plea bargain. One is that trial costs and court fees are expensive, and taking a plea deal would avoid a costly and lengthy jury trial. You may also have concerns about receiving a harsher sentence through a trial. Prosecutors who offer plea deals can prey on these fears and push you to falsely admit guilt.
You do not have to accept a plea bargain in your case, no matter the charge. By accepting a deal, you give up the right to plead not guilty and the constitutional right to a trial by a jury. There are other ways to avoid a conviction that do not require giving up your rights.
Understanding how a plea bargain works and what it means for your case is crucial to protect your rights if you are facing a criminal charge.