What is the Role of a Plea Bargain?

A plea bargain is a deal between an accused person and the prosecution in a criminal case. The process starts with a conversation between the defendant’s lawyer from a defense advocacy law firm in Seattle and the prosecutor. If you’re facing criminal charges, the prosecutor may give you a chance to plead guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for a lighter punishment than the original.

A prosecutor and judge may prefer to dispose of cases through a plea bargain to manage caseloads and remove the requirement of a full trial for the cases in question. Before accepting to enter into a plea bargain deal, consult extensively with your lawyers about the advantages and disadvantages of the agreement.

How Can I Benefit from a Plea Agreement Deal?

Once you fully understand what you stand to gain from entering a plea agreement, your Seattle criminal justice attorney could advise you to take the offer because of the following benefits:

Lighter Charges or Sentencing

If you enter a plea deal, the prosecutor may reduce the charges. For example, if you’ve been charged with a felony, the prosecutor may instead charge you with a misdemeanor. In some cases, you could be required to plead guilty to a crime of a different degree or class. The reduced charge could attract other consequences than what you would get if convicted of the original crime.

Alternatively, the prosecutor could offer to reduce your punishment. For example, they could ask the judge to reduce your prison sentence from 20 to 10 years, depending on the case specifics.

Reduce Uncertainty of the Case Outcome

Facing criminal charges can be highly stressful because you don’t know the outcome. You know you’re at risk of hefty penalties, and even if you’re innocent, there’s no guarantee that the court will not find you guilty at trial.

By accepting a plea agreement, you can remove the uncertainties of the outcome and have some form of control over what will happen. A plea bargain deal allows you and your Seattle criminal defense attorney to file motions for excluding evidence or impeaching certain witnesses.

Avoid Publicity

A criminal charge can taint your image and reputation in the community and workplace. It can also be an added embarrassment to your family. While a plea bargain is also a matter of public record, it could be more short-lived compared to a trial.

Accepting a plea bargain means fewer prosecutors may probe and investigate your background. That’s a crucial consideration if you’re concerned that the prosecution could uncover more potential crimes that could further complicate your case.

Fewer Serious Offenses on Your Record

Once you enter a plea bargain, you can possibly reduce the total charges on your record, or it may result in a reduction of the seriousness of the charges. Reducing charges from a felony to a misdemeanor could protect your chances at life in the future.

For example, if you’re convicted of a felony, you might find it hard to get employment in the future and might have to forfeit professional licenses and certifications. A conviction for a lesser charge may have less impact on your employability.

Save Time and Money

A plea bargain offers faster case resolution and avoids lengthy courtroom involvement. Since trials can be costly, you can save money on attorney fees and time by having fewer court appearances. Besides, the earlier the case is resolved, the sooner you can move on and start rebuilding yourself.

Are There Disadvantages to a Plea Bargain?

Accepting a plea bargain isn’t always easy, so getting the counsel of skilled Seattle criminal defense attorneys is advisable. Despite the advantages the agreement presents, it also has a fair share of disadvantages. If you don’t weigh them carefully, you could reduce your chances of a favorable outcome.

Lack of Investigation

Since most cases get settled through a plea agreement, some prosecutors may not conduct thorough investigations of the crime. That could result in overlooking essential facts that could otherwise enhance the case’s chances of being dismissed.

Ensure you retain an experienced defense attorney who understands the importance of investigating a case before advising you to settle for a plea bargain.

Loss of Constitutional Rights

Entering a plea agreement means that you give up some of your constitutional rights, such as the right to:

  • Cross-examine witnesses against you
  • Remain silent or testify in your defense
  • Have a jury determine your case
  • Plead not guilty and persist in that plea
  • Appeal

Giving Up Your Innocence

The most significant drawback of a plea agreement is that you agree to a guilty charge even if you know you’re innocent. Most defendants enter the deal to avoid the risk of a guilty verdict after trial. A guilty plea means you have a criminal conviction on your record despite being innocent.

Weigh Your Options Before Entering a Plea Agreement with the Help of a Skilled Criminal Defense Lawyer

Plea bargaining is a process that prosecutors, judges, and defense attorneys consider in complex criminal cases for the benefits it provides. However, it also presents various challenges for you, which could taint your record. Ensure you exhaustively discuss the pros and cons of a plea bargain with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Seattle to weigh your options.

The Law Offices of Kevin Trombold is a defense advocacy law firm with an aggressive criminal defense lawyer who can provide legal counsel and representation in your criminal case. Before entering a plea agreement, let us carefully evaluate the case circumstances and advise you of your options and rights for the most favorable outcome. Call us at 206-590-7667 for a FREE consultation.