Pros and cons of accepting a plea bargain

| May 11, 2021 | Criminal Defense

A plea bargain is a deal made between a defendant and a prosecutor in which the defendant pleads guilty of their lesser charges or only one of several charges in order to have a reduced sentence. A plea bargain may help you get a less intense punishment, but it also has its disadvantages as well. Here are the pros and cons of accepting a plea bargain in Georgia.

Advantages

A defendant who takes a plea bargain will receive a less harsh verdict than if they were to go to trial and be found guilty on all of their charges. Going through trial may also result in finding new evidence that makes the defendant’s case get even worse and lead to even harsher punishment.

If you and your criminal defense lawyer believe that the jury might find you guilty and convict you on all charges, accepting the plea bargain is a way to avoid that outcome. A defendant who accepts a plea bargain gets to avoid trial and only receives punishment for the charges they plead guilty to.

The prosecutor also benefits because going to trial takes a long time. By avoiding trial, it lessens the prosecutor’s workload and allows them to focus on more involved cases.

Disadvantages

A plea bargain requires that you plead guilty to one or more of your charges, so you will be convicted of them. If you go to trial, there is a chance that you may convince the jury that you are innocent, so you don’t have to suffer any penalties.

Sometimes, accepting a plea bargain can end with an innocent person going to jail for a crime they didn’t commit. Innocent people may accept a plea in order to avoid trial and a harsher sentence if the jury thinks that they are guilty, but pleading guilty to a crime you didn’t commit can result in paying fines, jail time and a criminal record that will follow you for life.

It is crucial that all parties involved consider the advantages and disadvantages of accepting a plea bargain. If you aren’t confident that you will get a victory in court, taking the plea bargain might be your best bet.