The vast majority of criminal cases are resolved before they ever head to trial. In many instances, this means that the accused individual accepts a plea deal. By doing so, the state is able to clear cases and avoid clogging up the court system as much as possible, while individuals who have been accused of a crime avoid the harshest penalties under the law.
But a lot of people who are given plea deals often feel pressured into them. Don’t let that be you. Instead, carefully analyze any plea deal that may be offered to you to make sure that you’re making the decision that is best for you.
How do you analyze a plea deal?
Before accepting or rejecting a plea deal, you should carefully analyze it. To do so, you’ll want to a look at a number of factors, including each of the following:
- What’s the maximum penalty under the law? Remember, if you go to trial and lose, the prosecution may seek to impose the harshest penalties under the law. These penalties can be surprisingly severe.
- How does the plea deal’s penalties stack up? Once you know what the maximum penalties are, then you can contextualize what’s being offered in the plea deal. In many instances, the difference in great, with the plea deal allowing the accused individual to avoid jail time. In other instances, though, even the plea deal’s penalties are severe. Once you know the difference, though, then you can move on to the rest of the analysis.
- How does the evidence look? Analyzing the evidence might seem like an obvious step, but you should do a deep dive here. Consider how the prosecution’s evidence stacks up to the elements of the alleged crime, and fully assess your criminal defense options. Consider whether you can suppress evidence due to an illegal search or seizure or poor chain of custody and assess if you’ll be able to strongly attack the credibility of the prosecution’s witnesses.
- How have similar cases played out? No two criminal cases are the same, but there are probably similarities between your case and other cases that have gone to trial. By looking at those cases, you might get a better sense of how your case will play out if you go forward with trial. Just remember, though, that juries can be unpredictable.
- How will a conviction affect other aspects of your life? A criminal conviction can send a ripple across every aspect of your life. If you’re an immigrant, it may threaten you with deportation. If you’re a professional, then your license may be in jeopardy. Even your ability to obtain a normal blue-collar job and housing may be at risk if you’re convicted of the alleged crime. There’s a lot at stake, so don’t overlook how a conviction, even through a plea deal, could affect your life.
- How quickly do you want to move on? Some people who have been accused of a crime know that they’ve done wrong, and they simply want to move on with life with as little damage as possible. Others want to fight the allegations with everything they’ve got. Consider what you want out of the process, as that may help steer you to the appropriate course of action.
Do you need a strong legal advocate on your side?
We know that you’re probably stressed about the criminal charges that have been levied against you. But you don’t have to face aggressive prosecutors on your own. Instead, you can work closely with a strong legal advocate who will know how to help you analyze your case and build the criminal defense strategy that is right for you. If you’d like to learn more about how we can do that, then please continue to browse our website.