Although everyone would like to believe that the justice system is fair and that the truth shall set you free, that might not always be the case. If you are facing criminal charges, there are times when it is smart to try your case in court, and other times when it is best to just take a plea bargain and move on. Even if you are not guilty, sometimes the length of time that it takes to exonerate yourself, and the cost of doing so, is not worth it. So if you are wondering whether you should take a plea bargain or not, these are the best questions to ask yourself.
Have you discussed it with a criminal defense attorney?
If you are considering taking a plea bargain, then it is imperative that you talk to a criminal defense attorney before you sign anything. An attorney is your best line of defense. They will likely know if your case can be won in court, or if you will be facing stiffer penalties or possible jail time if you don’t accept the plea bargain. They will also have an easier time negotiating with the prosecutor, who will most likely is not willing to negotiate with you directly. A Houston DWI attorney can tell you what your odds are of winning your case, and what the worst-case scenario may be if you are found guilty, to help you weigh the odds of either taking the plea or proceeding to court.
Is the plea a bargain?
There are times when someone who is facing criminal charges is given a second chance by being offered a plea bargain to get off “easy.” There are other times when a plea bargain is just a way for the prosecutor to make something go away quietly and to make themselves look good. Before you decide to take a plea bargain, ask yourself what is in it for you. If you are taking it just because you fear the worst and it isn’t a good deal, then don’t do it. There is probably room for negotiation.
If the plea is almost equal to what you would be facing in court, then the prosecutor is just trying to save time and money and isn’t really offering you a plea “bargain” – they are trying to save themselves and not have to deal with the case. In some cases they make a plea because they simply don’t have enough to convict. So before you make the decision to take a plea, make sure that the plea is in your favor and is something that benefits you in some way. Otherwise, you stand to lose nothing by taking the case to court.
If you are facing criminal charges, then there are times when just taking a plea bargain is in your best interests. For instance, if you are charged with a crime that could damage you personally or professionally if it went to court, then it might behoove you to take a bargain, even if it isn’t exactly what you are looking for. If there is nothing in the plea bargain that benefits you, then there isn’t any reason to accept it. If going to court will probably yield you less time and maybe a little embarrassment, then sometimes you have to do a cost-to-benefit analysis to determine whether the benefit of the plea bargain is really in your best interests or not.
How much evidence do they have against you?
If you are going to take a plea bargain, then it is a good idea to know how much evidence they actually have to convict you. Discussing with your criminal defense attorney what the prosecution has to put on trial is the only way to know if they can convict you or not. If you have a good chance of winning your case, then the plea bargain might not be the best option. However, if they have significant evidence against you, then you might want to consider a plea bargain, even if it is slightly less than you would get in court. Only you and your criminal defense lawyer can determine how far you want to carry your case.
If you have criminal charges against you and are offered a plea bargain, the only way to know for sure if you should accept it or not is to know what the prosecution has on you, whether it is in your best interests, if it is a “deal” at all, and what you can and can’t live with if you are found guilty. To make the best decision, it is imperative that you discuss your case with a criminal defense lawyer to get the answers you need to make an informed choice.