A plea deal or plea bargain is an accord between the prosecutor and the defendant where the prosecutor offers a concession, and the defendant testifies or provides evidence against another entity. The defendant has to plead guilty to less severe charges to acquire dismissal of charges or lenient criminal penalties.
The judge and prosecutor prefer using plea bargains to close multiple caseloads and minimize the number of cases going to full trial. Plea gains are quite common, and more than 90 percent of court cases are concluded this way. However, there are various reasons why you should never sign the first plea bargain you are offered.
Analysis Before Signing the First Deal
When contemplating whether to accept the first plea deal, take heed of the analysis and advice of your Fort Worth criminal defense lawyer. If you can’t get a good attorney or afford one, make time to get a consultation before accepting the deal.
Most defendants want to accelerate the process of solving their legal issues, especially when there is a bargain within the procedure. However, the perfect way a defendant can get the best out of a deal is proper knowledge of the charges against them compared to the available defenses and potency of their case. Thus, it’s crucial to avoid the first deal offer since the prosecutor is in a hurry to close the case and doesn’t have your interest at heart.
Consult with a Fort Worth Criminal defense lawyer to guide you in the process. Note that you are innocent until proven otherwise beyond doubt in a court of law. Your defense attorney has the experience and expertise to identify whether you should accept the deal or not. They will point out an unfair plea deal and your chances if you go to trial.
Is It a Bargain?
As mentioned earlier, the prosecutor’s work is to process a plethora of cases through the system and obtain convictions. Public defenders are also in a hurry to get multiple cases off their desks. They negotiate bargains with prosecutors to get numerous cases through the system even when they have the potential for a full trial. It helps to have an attorney to look out for your interest because they don’t have the pressure of quickly getting the case off their desk.
The prosecution will initially offer something that works for them and a little better than your worst scenario. You and the lawyer will suggest something that suits you best and identify weaknesses in the prosecutor’s charges such as questionable witnesses, improperly gained or missing evidence, and so on. A few back and forth passes will move the plea offer closer to a favorable option.
Not Serving Your Best Interest
Amid the quagmire and stress of going through criminal prosecutions, most defenders quickly leap into any aid that comes their way. Before accepting the first offer, let it sink in your mind that the prosecutor is not your friend, and the ‘nice’ gesture serves their interest more than yours, mainly if you accept the first offer.
They may persuade you that taking the bargain on their conditions is better than facing more severe charges or harsher penalties. However, pleas are sometimes provided since the prosecution has flimsy evidence and may lose the court trial. They may also be offered simply because the judge expects the prosecutor to come up with an offer before giving a court ruling.
A prosecutor is a state employee who represents the government, and they presume you are guilty. Their objective is to acquire multiple convictions as much as they can and serve the state’s interest — not yours!
Taking the plea offer forfeits the right to appeal even though various issues could erupt in the case. Although a plea bargain can serve your interest, when you accept the charges, you capitulate the right to a trial, and in case you get sentenced unfairly, you cannot counter the sentence.
Note that the judges accept the prosecutor’s sentence recommendation, but they are not liable for their advice. The judge may award penalties and prison time without considering the prosecutor’s recommendations. The jury can’t examine the evidence and decide whether you are innocent or not when you plead to the charges.
Proceeding to trial means you might escape decorating your history with a criminal record. Taking the plea offer leads to a conviction that may plunge you into financial turmoil and extended jail time. The criminal record will put a blemish in your job applications. You can’t expunge the conviction, and if you can, other individuals can still access this information.
The criminal attorney has handled several cases like yours and will know if what you are getting is worth your consideration. Obtain many details from your lawyer, but the final decision falls on you. If the lawyer believes the state has a definite proof to convict you, they will know the right time to accept the offer. The attorney may also suggest a trial if you believe you are innocent or the evidence is weak.
What Happens If You Don’t Take the Plea Offer
In criminal proceedings, it’s inevitable for the defendant to accept a plea deal. Defendants facing charges must plead at least once. Most scenarios involve two pleas: the initial not-guilty and the guilty plea. Some defendants may ask to delay the plea bargain due to reasons such as a missing lawyer, and at times the judge concedes.
When defendants fail to accept a plea or speak, the judge will first determine reasons for not signing the plea deal before entering the not-guilty plea on their behalf. You can’t object a plea deal, wait till the deadline lapses, then demand a better deal.
Facing a criminal prosecution entails various horrors. It’s crucial to keep your head up and make prudent decisions to make your situation bearable since the consequences are difficult to maneuver and far-reaching. It’s also essential to talk to a reliable criminal defense lawyer who has your best interests at heart to guide and counsel you on when to take the plea bargain.