The majority of criminal cases are resolved through plea bargaining. A plea deal is generally a negotiated agreement in your criminal case between you and the prosecution. It may seem the best course if you are facing serious charges, but it is important to weigh your choices carefully.
Remember, you have a right to a fair trial. As such, you might be better off fighting the charges against you, since there’s always the possibility of an acquittal. It’s wise to remember that a plea deal means you will have a conviction on your record.
Types of plea deals
Prosecutors can offer defendants several different kinds of plea deals. Typically, a plea deal will involve one or more of these things:
- Reducing the number of charges against you
- Pleading guilty in exchange for a sentence recommendation
- Downgrading or reducing the charges you are facing
You can negotiate any of these terms with the prosecution, but in the end, it rests squarely on you to accept or refuse the plea deal. It’s important to understand that plea deals are not always in your best interest.
You do not have to show that you are innocent at trial. Instead, the prosecution has to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Sometimes, plea deals are offered only when the evidence the prosecution has does not meet that threshold.
Understand and protect your rights
Every case is different. This is why you should be aware of your legal rights as the defendant and protect them at length to increase the likelihood of a successful outcome.