Should you find yourself facing criminal charges, you can likely expect that the prosecutor will offer your attorney a plea bargain to relay to and discuss with you. But should you accept it?
The answer to that all-important question depends on what kind of plea bargain the prosecutor offers, what it requires you to do and what consequences you will face if you accept it.
Plea bargain types
FindLaw explains that plea bargains come in the following three types:
- Charge reduction – The prosecutor offers to dismiss the charges against you if you agree to plead guilty to one or more less serious charges.
- Sentence reduction – The prosecutor offers to recommend a lighter penalty to the judge if you agree to plead guilty to the original charges.
- Fact agreement – The prosecutor offers to refrain from bringing up certain facts surrounding your case at trial if your attorney agrees not to bring up certain other facts.
The top reason why you may want to consider accepting a plea bargain is that doing so could save you considerable time and money. Why? Because a plea bargain negates the necessity of going to trial.
Unfortunately, however, accepting a plea bargain can present you with a number of negatives, including the following:
- You must admit in open court that you committed either the original crime charged or a lesser crime and accept a conviction thereof.
- The judge has no obligation to accept the prosecutor’s sentencing recommendation.
- Because you admitted your guilt, you consequently will find it difficult to appeal your conviction.
Furthermore, the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives you the right to confront the witnesses against you and to receive a trial by a jury of your peers. Accepting a plea bargain thus waives this important constitutional right.