Things to Consider Before Agreeing to a Plea Bargain

Most criminal cases are usually solved through a plea bargain. When facing a criminal charge, you should decide if getting into a plea bargain is in your best interest. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons of the plea agreement before accepting it. 

The first thing you need to do is talk to a criminal defense attorney to guide you on the best course of action. They can advise you if the prosecutor is offering the best deal or the strengths of your defense.

When in such a situation, here are some considerations to help you make an important resolution:

1. Court Approval

The judge must always approve a plea agreement. If they feel the punishment is lenient, they may accept your guilty plea but not the punishment you agreed with the prosecutor. In this situation, you may need to withdraw your plea. 

2. There May Be No Room to Appeal

Most plea bargains do have a waiver appeal. This means you can give up the right to contest your case or plea in a court of law. All you need is to discuss what this means for your case with an attorney, as courts are never responsible for your ignorance of the law. 

3. Take the Jail or Prison Sentence Seriously

If the plea bargain you’re taking has a jail or prison time sentence, you need to take it seriously, even if it’s for a month. Prison can be very stressful. It can completely break you down mentally. You should take prison time seriously.

Consider how taking the plea will affect your job, ability to support your family, and general life. In the cells, the life of paying bills, providing childcare, and securing your belongings has to continue. In worse scenarios, you may even lose your job, so be wise. 

4. Understand that a Plea Deal is a Waiver of Your Rights

Financial advisor communicating with young couple while going through their financial reports during a meeting at home

When you enter into a plea agreement, you are waiving important rights. You may have the right to have your case decided at trial and to appeal your conviction.

A judge will always ask if you understand your rights in the case and if you are waiving them voluntarily.

Always ask your attorney a bunch of questions to understand what you’re getting into before going to court. Do this, as complaining later that your attorney duped you into saying yes may be ineffective at a later date. 

5. Permanent Criminal Record

If you plead guilty or do not contest a misdemeanor or felony, you may have a permanent criminal record. This may limit your future options, which may be dire. You may not be able to vote as a felon, and employers, on many occasions, may also ask about your felony convictions.

You need to know the long-term consequences of taking a plea bargain in your life. It may hinder you from accessing housing or getting employment in your state. 

6. Ask About Immigration Consequences

When you plead guilty to committing a crime, you may face civil liability if property was damaged or someone suffered injuries.

If you’re an immigrant, plea bargains can help you avoid being barred from re-entering the US. More so, when you have a drug offense, you need to have an attorney by your side to ensure the charges you plead don’t ruin your hopes of becoming a US citizen.

Contact an Attorney Today

If you’re facing criminal charges in the US and considering taking a plea bargain, you need to consult an attorney. Speak with criminal defense lawyers who can help you devise a defense strategy for a favorable plea agreement.