When the prosecution offers you a plea deal, you may be tempted to accept it without a second thought. It could be because you will receive a more lenient sentence than the potential penalties of your original charges.
However, accepting a plea deal is not always ideal. You should carefully consider the implications of such an agreement and understand what you are getting into before signing on the dotted line. Here is why.
It means admitting you committed a criminal offense
You must deal with the legal consequences if you admit to breaking the law. While you may get a reduced sentence or face reduced charges, depending on the specifics of your deal, you will have to deal with the various undesirable outcomes of a conviction.
Beyond a possible jail term, you will likely end up with a criminal record if convicted, and it can follow you for the rest of your life. Additionally, a plea deal may require you to comply with certain conditions, such as attending counseling or rehabilitation programs, which can be time-consuming and costly.
Accepting a plea deal waives some of your rights
As the defendant in a criminal case, you have a right against self-incrimination, a right to a fair speedy trial and the right to cross-examine witnesses. However, you waive these and other important constitutional rights when you agree to a plea deal, given that it negates the need for a trial in the first place.
Get informed legal advice
It helps to have qualified legal guidance if you are facing any criminal charges. That way, you will have a clearer understanding of how the criminal justice system works, your legal rights and the necessary information to make decisions that are in your best interests.