Criminal defense attorneys often encounter clients who come to them after a bad plea bargain. These clients want help correcting the errors of the plea bargain, and they want to find out if there is any chance to get out of a bad situation.
Criminal justice reformers often focus on the problems with plea bargains as part of their work. If the police arrest you, it is essential you understand the basics of plea bargains so you can have an informed view of how the criminal justice process could work against you.
Basics of plea bargains and risks
In a plea bargain, you, the defendant, agree to plead guilty to the charges against you without going to trial. In exchange, the prosecutor avoids going to trial in an often overcrowded and backlogged system. He or she thus offers you a “bargain” that can involve agreements such as dropped charges or a lesser charge.
One risk to you as the defendant in accepting a plea bargain is it gives prosecutors broad powers, and no judge is present. When you accept a plea bargain, you do so without having to go to trial to prove your innocence. The prosecutor may present the deal to you as if it is the most advantageous option for you, but he or she does not have your best interests in mind.
Alternatives to plea bargaining
There are ways to seek post-conviction relief if you accept a bad plea bargain. When it comes to the defendant’s best interests, not all cases are good candidates for a plea bargain. A criminal defense attorney is the best resource for you to consult with as you pursue your options and your rights following an arrest. There are many obscure factors that come into play in terms of every criminal case. As a layperson, you are not equipped to understand the detailed particulars of your individual case from a legal perspective. Therefore, accepting a plea bargain could actually hurt you rather than help you. The important thing for you to understand is you should not accept any agreement in which you do not understand all the consequences.