If you’ve been charged with a serious criminal offense, such as those pertaining to drug trafficking, aggravated DUI, or something involving physical violence or weapons, your future is in jeopardy. You might find yourself completely overwhelmed by the case against you, and the potential penalties that prosecutors seek to impose on you are probably nerve-wracking to say the least. You might also feel like the prosecution has all of the power, which is why if they haven’t already, they’re probably going to approach you with a plea deal.
Is taking a plea deal right for you?
The truth of the matter is that very few criminal cases actually end up going to trial. This is because in a lot of instances the prosecution’s case is supported by strong evidence that is hard to rebut. However, before accepting a plea deal, there are a number of things that you’ll want to take into consideration, including each of the following:
- Your ability to suppress evidence: As we’ve discussed previously on the blog, suppressing evidence is one of the best ways to attack the prosecution’s case and increase your chances of having your case dismissed or obtaining an acquittal at trial. Therefore, before acting on a plea deal, you’ll want to consider whether you were subjected to an illegal search and seizure, there were chain of custody errors, or if witness testimony can be excluded for failure to show up at a deposition. If you have a strong likelihood of getting powerful evidence tossed out, then you might not want to jump on that plea deal. If it looks like that strong evidence is coming in at trial, then the plea deal might warrant a closer look.
- What you have to gain: Some plea deals provide a significant break on penalties or the type of conviction. By agreeing to a plea deal, you might escape jail or prison, or even have a felony dropped to a misdemeanor, which can protect your ability to secure a job and housing. But if an offered plea deal only provides for token decreases in penalties, then you really don’t have much to lose by going to trial. So here it’s helpful to know what’s truly at stake by going forward with your case and what you can avoid by agreeing to a plea deal.
- What can you live with? Some people are fighters and want nothing more than to go toe-to-toe with the State. That’s fine, and certainly within your legal rights. But others are fine with admitting that they made a mistake and they simply want to move on with life with as little repercussions as possible? Which camp do you fall into. Are you going to have regrets if you go to trial and lose? What if you accept a plea deal when you had a decent shot at trial? These are hard questions to answer and only you know how to do so.
- Know how similar cases have panned out: No two criminal cases are the same, and juries can be notoriously unpredictable. However, by looking at similar cases and how they turned out, you might get a clearer sense of where your case stands and what you have to risk by going forward. This analysis can help you answer the questions above about what you might regret doing or not doing.
Get a thorough analysis of your case
Deciding on a plea deal is a big choice to make. After all, it can have a profound impact on your future. That’s why you shouldn’t make your decision blindly. Instead, you should know every aspect of your case, including its strengths and weaknesses, and how the law, both statutory and case law, applies to your unique set of circumstances. By working closely with an experienced criminal defense attorney, you can conduct a thorough analysis of your case and develop the best legal strategy for you. If you’d like to learn more about how to do that, then consider reaching out to an attorney who has a track record of successfully navigating these matters.