People in Maryland who are facing criminal charges may be offered a plea bargain. There are benefits and drawbacks to agreeing to this.
Some people may assume that the best criminal defense strategy is to go to trial, particularly if they did not do the thing that they are accused of. However, a plea bargain can remove the element of uncertainty. A person may be found not guilty following a trial, but he or she could also be found guilty and face a harsh penalty, such as a long prison sentence.
Reduced charges or sentencing
Another advantage of a plea bargain is that a person could get his or her sentence or the charges reduced. This could mean years off a sentence in jail or prison or not serving any time at all. Going to jail or prison is stressful, carries a stigma and can mean separation from loved ones. When charges are reduced, it can mean pleading guilty to a less stigmatizing or serious charge. This can affect not just the situation around the legal consequences of the crime, but also certain issues, such as eligibility for employment in certain fields and access to education and housing.
Everything about facing criminal charges, whether relatively minor or more serious, adds complications to an individual’s life. Going to trial can mean an additional layer of complications as well as publicity. A plea bargain may be the right approach to simply avoid all this.
The importance of a defense
There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a plea bargain. People have a right to a trial and should not be pressured into a plea bargain for the sake of convenience. An attorney should always try to provide a robust defense for his or her client.
However, a plea bargain can be an important tool and, in the best-case scenarios, can, essentially, make potentially life-changing charges have a minimal impact. Individuals who are facing criminal charges may want to discuss plea bargaining, along with other defense strategies, with an attorney.