Plea bargains have become a controversial topic in recent decades. Some believe that the risks of a plea deal often outweigh the immediate (and highly attractive) rewards, such as reduced or no jail time.
It is true that many plea bargains do not preserve the defendant’s best interests. Still, it is possible to obtain a fair deal if you know the risks or disadvantages you may undertake by accepting the bargain.
It could benefit the prosecution more than you
First, understand that plea bargains usually benefit courts and prosecutors. If a prosecutor wants to bargain, you probably have something they really desire—usually, information or evidence implicating bigger fish (large distributors, etc.).
Some prosecutors have been accused of misconduct like coercing defendants into accepting a one-sided plea deal. To avoid this, consider having someone with legal knowledge review the offer and protect your interests.
You are essentially admitting guilt
Many innocent defendants fail to understand that a plea bargain does not clear away a criminal record. Worse than that, accepting the deal is basically the same as agreeing that you committed the offense.
Those who are innocent and want their chance to prove it in court should think twice before entering a plea agreement. You might avoid a lengthy jail sentence, but it may leave you feeling betrayed by the system.
Many decisions defendants face can be double-edged swords in disguise that worsen their circumstances. You may need help identifying and avoiding undue risks under the extreme stress an arrest can create.
Learning more about South Carolina criminal laws and their possible penalties helps ensure you remain informed through every stage of your case. It can also help you explore additional defense options.