Almost everything becomes more difficult after an arrest. To make matters worse, you may have some important and potentially life-changing decisions to make in the coming days. One particularly stressful event will be your plea deal decision. Plea bargains have become the go-to method for dealing with most misdemeanors, as well as some felonies. To help you make sense of what a plea deal could mean, follow this advice.
- Discuss Things With Your Attorney — If you have not already done so, speak to a defense attorney about your case. You will need help with not only this decision but many more. Your attorney will use their experience with any potential sentencing and help you understand the ramifications of the deal.
- Know About the Evidence — Your attorney will know about the state's case against you, including evidence that could mean a worse sentence should you take your case to trial. On the other hand, if the state has a weak case against you, the attorney can negotiate for a better plea bargain on your behalf.
- Send the State a Message — Just having a private attorney can make things go in your direction since the state knows you have "lawyered up" and are prepared to fight. Plea deals present both sides with a faster way of dealing with a case. Going fast may not necessarily be a good thing for you, however. Just because it's called a deal doesn't mean it really is a good deal for you. If the state knows that you are aware of your rights and have a private attorney on your side, they might be willing to offer you a real deal and not just a quick way to dispose of the case.
- Understand the Sentencing — Plea bargains can offer defendants a break on punishment, but the sentence can still be very harsh. All criminal matters can result in jail or prison time, financial hardship, probation or parole, loss of privileges, and more. Be sure you understand the long-term consequences of a plea bargain and the sentence that could result if you were to go to trial. Your future could be impacted by your decision for a long time and it's vital that you understand that accepting a plea bargain means pleading guilty. From now on, you will have to suffer the consequences of knowing that you have a criminal record that can be accessed and seen by almost anyone curious enough to look. If you know with certainty that you can prove your innocence in a court of law, think twice or more before you sign that plea bargain agreement.
Contact a company that offers criminal law services in order to learn more about plea deals and for other information.