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Should I consider a plea negotiation for criminal charges?

There is no easy answer to this question. Each case is different and each defendant has a different overall goal in a criminal defense. For example, a defendant might choose to plea bargain if he or she was apprehended in the middle of a crime, while another defendant might resist a plea bargain if he or she has been falsely accused of committing a crime.

Rather than giving an answer that might not be relevant to your case, we will answer the question by providing you with the education you need to make the decision for yourself.

A plea bargain is a deal between the defendant and the prosecution that contains benefits for each party. The first thing to understand about a plea is that it could result in a reduced sentence for whatever charges the defendant faces. Another important thing to know is that entering into a plea agreement binds both parties and neither may break the agreement without facing at least some consequences. For instance, if a defendant breaks the agreement, the prosecutor is free to pursue charges and if the prosecution breaks the deal, the defendant may be able to petition the judge for relief.

Yet another aspect of plea agreements is the defendant will lose three important fifth and sixth amendment rights: the right to a trial by jury, the right to confront hostile witnesses and the right against implicating oneself. Many people think plea agreements are unconstitutional, but the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled otherwise on numerous occasions. Despite the controversy, a plea agreement does offer benefits for the defendant including, a lighter sentence, fewer charges and legal fee savings.

Hopefully, the information in this post has clarified what it means to enter into a plea negotiation. A criminal defense attorney who has been fully briefed on the facts of your case can provide additional advice about the advantages and disadvantages of a plea agreement so that you can make a well-informed decision.

Source: Cornell University Law School, "Plea bargain" Sep. 23, 2014

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