Those who are accused of crimes typically want the process to end as quickly as possible. Going to court is stressful, time-consuming, and a drain on the finances. Trials are often long, as well, which only adds to a defendant’s aguish.
One way to end the drama is with a plea bargain. Plea bargains involve both the defendant and the prosecutor coming to an agreement out of court. For instance, in exchange for a guilty plea, the prosecutor may agree to fines and probation for the defendant, which is better than going to court and possibly receiving jail time from the judge or jury.
The Disadvantages of Plea Bargains
Before you suggest or enter a plea deal, however, you must know the drawbacks of doing so, as they may be enough to change your mind. The drawbacks include:
- Pleading guilty to the crime. An important component to a plea bargain is the defendant pleading guilty, although often to a lesser charge. For some defendants, this is the best hope of leniency in sentencing, but if you are innocent, it could be a deal breaker. Pleading guilty means you will have a criminal record. Going to trial, especially if you are innocent, leaves the possibility that charges will be dropped and your record will remain clean.
- Giving up your constitutional right. It is every defendant’s constitutional right to receive a trial by jury. By entering a plea, you take that right away from yourself. This may not be an issue if you think you’ll be found guilty, but if you believe that the evidence will prove to a jury that you are innocent beyond reasonable doubt, you may not want to go into a plea deal.
Don’t Agree Without Legal Help
The worst thing you can do is agree to a plea deal without the help of an attorney. The Easley Law Firm is experienced in Virginia criminal law and can help you decide what to do. Contact us today to learn how.