Whatever the charges are against you, don’t be surprised if the prosecutor offers you a deal. Plea bargains are a prosecutor’s “bread and butter,” because they’re a sure deal. In the books, a plea agreement is the same as a conviction. If you take the deal, you’re giving the prosecution an easy win and saving the court both time and money.
So, what’s in it for you? Why would you want to do anything that makes the prosecutor’s job easier? Most of the time, people accept plea deals because:
- It ends the uncertainty they’re facing. With most deals, you know exactly what your sentence will be. If you don’t like your chances at trial or are worried about getting a much longer sentence if you’re convicted in court, a deal can be a relief.
- You can get reduced charges — or reduced time. Those are two of the biggest bargaining chips a prosecutor has when offering a deal. If they offer to reduce your felony to a misdemeanor or cut a possible sentence in half, that’s often enough to convince someone to take a plea deal.
- You may get out of jail with time served. If you’ve been sitting in jail for a while because you can’t afford bail, taking a plea bargain may set you free and let you get back to your life sooner than waiting on a trial.
Do any of these things mean that a plea bargain is in your best interests? Not at all. While sometimes a plea deal really is the right way to go, it’s not something you want to jump on without considering the implications for your future very carefully. If you’re thinking about accepting a plea deal, talk to an experienced advocate before you make up your mind.