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West Michigan

3 Reasons to Accept a Plea Bargain

A criminal case can be concluded before it goes to trial if the plea bargain is accepted. If someone is accused of committing a crime, they are entitled to take their case to trial. However, there are situations where accepting a plea bargain and concluding the case is beneficial for both the defendant and the prosecutor. According to California criminal defense lawyers, the accused can avoid the suspension of a professional license, jail time, hefty fines, and criminal records by getting assistance from an experienced criminal attorney.

What is a Plea Bargain?

Before we delve into some of the reasons to accept a plea bargain, it is important to understand what it is. A plea bargain is an arrangement in criminal law proceedings between the defendant and prosecutor in which the defendant agrees to plead guilty in exchange for a more lenient sentence, reduced charges, or dismissed charges. A plea bargain poses a dilemma for defense attorneys who must choose whether to recommend accepting the plea bargain or taking the case to court.

More than 90% of criminal cases that end up in conviction are adjudicated through plea bargains. The suspected individual is more likely to accept a plea bargain if they believe they have a weak case or there is the possibility of the death penalty. In some cases, the prosecutor may want the defendant to do more than just plead guilty. For example, they might want the accused to testify against accomplices or to provide evidence that can be useful to the authorities.

Plea bargains can happen at any stage of the criminal proceedings; however, courts consider a plea bargain as a contract between the defendant and the prosecutor, so any violation of the plea bargain can result in a breach of contract resulting in no deal. Please carry on reading to learn the top three reasons for accepting a plea bargain.

Three Reasons to Accept a Plea Bargain

Getting Reduced Charges

One of the most common reasons for a defendant to accept a plea bargain is a lighter sentence or reduced charges for the crime. This may result in the defendant agreeing to plead guilty to a misdemeanor instead of a felony, which typically carries harsher penalties. A misdemeanor instead of a felony can be extremely beneficial to the defendant as they get to preserve their job prospects, civil rights, and professional licenses.

The reduced charges could be in the form of a reduced number of charges, or severity of charges. The prosecutor may also agree to recommend that the defendant receive leniency in their sentence. The judges have a limited role in plea bargains, but they have the final authority over judgments, so they are not bound to agree to any recommendations by the prosecutor.

A lesser charge on their criminal record can have a significant impact on the life of the defendant. For example, if they are convicted of a sex crime, they will need to register as a sex offender for the rest of their life. They might lose access to several types of employment opportunities in the future.

Reduced charges can also mean avoiding deportation for non-U.S. citizens. The deportation typically happens after they have served their sentences. Pleading guilty to a charge that reduces the likelihood of deportation is a major benefit to non-U.S. citizens.

Putting an End to the Case

A criminal case that goes to a jury trial means there is the possibility of lengthy delays, including jury selection, jury deliberation, explaining evidence to the jury, waiting for a verdict, and other processes required to conclude the case. This means added expenses and stress for as long as the case is on trial. Some people accept a plea bargain, especially for minor offenses, just to avoid the hassle of going to trial.

Some of the expenses of going to trial include jury fees, court reporter fees, subpoenas, expert testimony, hiring a private investigator, and a wide range of other trial costs. All these costs can accumulate to a substantial amount, draining the financial resources of the parties involved in the case.

There is preparation required by an attorney for the jury trial. They might have to hold multiple meetings with witnesses and the client. It also includes meetings with the prosecutor to discuss stipulations regarding evidence and witness testimony. All this adds to the expenses and effort required to take a case to trial, making plea bargains an inexpensive and efficient way to end the case.

The defendant and the prosecutor also have to contend with the inherent uncertainty of a criminal trial. By accepting a plea bargain, the defendant can face the consequences now rather than living in uncertainty and worrying about the outcome of the case.

For defendants who cannot afford bail or because the severity of their crimes doesn’t allow for bail, putting an end to the case by accepting the plea bargain is a way to end their misery in jail.

Avoiding Social Stigma

Accepting a plea bargain can save the defendant from social stigma, as being convicted of domestic violence, a sex crime, or other types of crimes can have social consequences. This negatively impacts their relationship with their loved ones and the community. The criminal conviction can be embarrassing and devastating for the loved ones of the defendant.

In some cases, a defendant would accept a plea bargain to protect their family and friends from investigation or charges related to the crime. The reduced charges can also be beneficial if the defendant goes to jail or prison, as the treatment they get from the guards and inmates can depend on the nature of their convicted crime. For example, a felon convicted of child molestation or rape might suffer unfavorable treatment in prison.

Avoiding social stigma is of even greater benefit to famous people or public office holders, as their reputation is vital to their careers. While a plea deal might also make news, it is often short-lived compared to a jury trial.

Give me a call today if you want to get the best results possible on your criminal charges. 616-438-6719. Shawn Haff is a Criminal Defense Lawyer who gets great results in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area.


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