If you've been charged with a drug offense, you may eventually be offered a plea bargain. However, you shouldn't just accept a plea deal, as they aren't always drafted to be in your favor. You may assume that they are, but there is a lot of under-the-surface information that you need to be aware. Before you accept the prosecution's plea bargain, here are a few things to take into consideration:
1. Make Sure You Take Time Behind Bars Seriously.
In some cases, your plea bargain may include jail time or even prison time. While it may be a lower timeframe that what you would get if you were convicted of the alleged drug offense, it is still time behind bars. You need to take the time to fully understand what that means. For example, while incarcerated, someone will need to care for your children, pay your bills and keep an eye on your personal belongings. In most cases, you'll also lose your job. Depending on the circumstances, this may all be worth it, but it is crucial that you examine every aspect of the situation before making a decision.
2. Understand That an Appeal May Not Be Available.
As a general rule, when you agree to a plea bargain, you waive all rights to appeal due to a waiver of appeal found within the plea deal paperwork. You need to understand what this means, so make sure your attorney explains it to you in detail, as judges are unlikely to overturn the decision. Your ignorance of the law will not be looked highly upon in court.
3. Know the Possible Consequences If You're Convicted.
If you decide to plead guilty to a felony drug charge, even if you get out scot-free in terms of jail time, your future may still be limited. You may not go to jail or prison, but you'll still be considered a convicted felon because you pleaded guilty. Therefore, you may find it difficult to find good employment, and you may even lose your individual right to vote. Personal relationships could suffer as well when the other persons finds out that you were previously convicted.
4. Be Aware of All of Your Rights and Waivers.
Once you agree to a plea deal, you will be likely be asked by the judge if you fully understand your individual rights in the drug offense case. He or she will ask if you understand that you are waiving them voluntarily. For example, you're giving up the right to fight your case at any given time in the future, and you are giving up the right to change your mind once the plea deal is accepted. If you do not understand the rights that you are giving up, make sure your attorney explains them to you ahead of time. Again, your ignorance of the law will not bode well for you.
5. Ask About Any Immigration-Related Consequences.
When it comes to drug offenses, it is crucial that you understand the impact that a guilty plea will have on immigration-related situations in your life. In many cases, a plea bargain is drafted to help an immigrant avoid being barred from the U.S., losing citizenship or losing the chance to become a citizen of the country. You may even be deported. Accepting a plea deal may not be your best choice if it is going to cause you to lose your chance to become a future citizen of the United States.
For more information, contact an attorney in your area.