Will You Have To Take A Deal In A Criminal Case?

Law Blog

The majority of criminal cases in the American justice system never make it to trial. One of two things usually happens before it comes to that. First, the prosecution's case may be flawed, leading the judge to toss out the charges. Second, the prosecution and the criminal defense lawyer may reach a plea agreement.

You may wonder if you have to take a deal in your case. Here is a look at that issue and its implications.

Is It Required?

Simply put, the answer is no. You are under no requirement to take a plea deal if one is offered. Likewise, the prosecution is under no obligation to offer one even if you want to plead out.

Why Are Deals Done?

From the perspective of a prosecutor, criminal cases take time. Also, taking a case to trial runs the risk of losing, and most prosecutors care about their win-loss records.

As far as a criminal defense attorney looks at the problem, pleading out is mostly about avoiding bigger threats down the road. If someone is facing 20 years in prison for a slew of armed robbery and weapons charges, for example, there's a strong argument for considering a plea where they take 5 years of prison time on a lesser charge.

In some cases, this can mean the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor. That can be a big deal when it comes to how soon someone can ask for charges to be expunged from their record. For defendants convicted in cases involving sex acts, minors, or the elderly, pleading to a lesser charge may keep them off a registered offender list. Put another way, pleading out is sometimes the lesser of two evils.

You Make the Choice

When a prosecutor offers a plea agreement, your criminal defense lawyer is legally required to present you with the details. They also are obliged to tell you whether they think the deal is in your best interests given what you're facing and the strength of the case against you. With that in mind, though, it's 100% your choice whether to take the deal or push for a trial.

What if a Deal Isn't Offered?

Defendants do have the option to still plead guilty to the charges. This is sometimes referred to as throwing yourself upon the mercy of the court. The goal is to show the judge that you acknowledge that you did something wrong, hoping that they'll appreciate the effort and provide a lesser sentence.

For more information, contact a firm like The Helton Law Office.


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