Prosecutors are aggressive and oftentimes relentlessly pursue conviction. But they also have high caseloads, which means that they try to clear cases as quickly as they can so that they can focus on those highly contested cases that they can’t resolve. This means that there’s a good chance that you’re going to be given a plea deal in your case. The penalties will probably be much less than what could be imposed upon conviction, and you might even see prosecutors offering to drop certain charges. But is accepting a plea deal in your best interests?
How to analyze your plea deal
Before accepting or denying a plea deal, you should fully vet it to see if its right for you. Here are some things to take into consideration:
- The terms offered in light of the maximum penalties: Going into your case you’re going to know the maximum penalties you could face upon conviction. This allows you to compare your plea deal to those maximums to see just how favorable the terms are. You also have to ask yourself if you can deal with the proposed penalties even though they may be less severe.
- The evidence: Sometimes plea deals are offered because prosecutors simply don’t have the evidence to obtain a conviction at trial and they’re trying to bluff the strength of their case to get an agreement. In these instances, going to trial might be right for you. On the other hand, sometimes prosecutors offer plea deals because the evidence against the accused individual is overwhelming and they’re simply hoping to save some time and effort. If that’s the case, then you might be best served by negotiating the best terms possible. Conducting discovery, such as depositions, can help you get a better feel for the position of your case.
- Your aversion to risk: In a lot of cases it’s not clear who would win at trial. Judges and juries can be unpredictable, making matters even more uncertain. Therefore, when considering your plea deal you really need to think about how much you’re willing to put on the line to obtain an acquittal.
Know your options
Of course, the strength of your criminal defense strategy can play a major role in your determination of whether to accept a plea deal or fight the charges levied against you. That’s why before taking any action on your case it might be best to sit down with an experienced criminal defense attorney to determine your best course of action in light of your unique circumstances.