After being charged with a crime, it is natural to wonder how you can avoid the harshest consequences. It is never possible to predict exactly how a criminal case may be resolved and you and your Ouachita Parish criminal defense lawyer may be considering a plea bargain. Plea bargains have many different benefits, but they also have some drawbacks. Below, our experienced attorney explains plea bargains, and when they should be accepted or avoided.
What is a Plea Bargain?
Plea bargains are not applicable in every case. When they are offered, they can be presented by either the prosecution, the defendant’s attorney, and even the judge. In most instances, plea bargains are only offered or considered if a defendant does not have a previous criminal history. If a plea bargain is offered, the defendant will typically agree to plead guilty to a lesser charge. In exchange for the guilty verdict, the defendant will face a lighter sentence.
Benefits of Plea Bargains
Plea bargains do hold certain benefits for individuals accused of a crime. These include:
- Reduce the impact on your criminal record: If you are convicted of a crime, it will appear on your permanent criminal record. Not all offenses are considered equal by future employers, landlords, and others, though. If you can get the charges reduced, they may lessen the impact on your criminal record. For example, if you were charged with a felony but can plead down to a misdemeanor, the impact on your criminal record will be greatly reduced.
- Save time and money: If you accept a plea bargain, you may be able to lower the time you spend within the criminal justice system. The less time a case takes to resolve, the less it will also cost you, so accepting a plea can save you time and money.
- Reduce the penalties: The reason most defendants accept a plea bargain is because they want to reduce the penalties they will have to serve. For example, a person that is facing ten years in prison may accept a plea bargain and serve only half of that time.
When Should You Avoid a Plea Bargain?
It is true that there are many benefits that come with accepting a plea bargain, but that does not mean it is always the best choice. If you and your lawyer feel that your defense is strong, it may not be wise to plea bargain your case. If you are innocent, you may also want to take your case to trial rather than accept a plea bargain. This is particularly true if you have a professional practice or are part of one, or if a plea will affect your immigration status.
Our Criminal Defense Lawyer in Ouachita Parish Can Provide the Sound Legal Advice You Need
If you have been charged with a crime, our Monroe criminal defense lawyer at Whiddon Criminal Defense can advise on every aspect of your case including whether a plea bargain is possible, or beneficial to your case. Call us now at 318-594-3592 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation and to learn more about how we can help.