When the worst happens and you get arrested, word may come to you that you are being offered a plea deal. This manner of handling criminal matters has become increasingly common and it can represent a way to shorten the legal process. While your criminal defense attorney is the best one to advise you on the issue, it might help to understand why this is happening and how it might affect you. Read on to learn more.
What is meant by a plea bargain? The word "bargain" may be a valid way to look at it, but not always. You will need to evaluate whether or not the deal presented by the prosecutor is really in your favor or not. You should understand that plea bargains are of great benefit to the state and not always to the accused. In some cases, you will be pleading guilty to a lesser crime or fewer counts of the same crime and the sentence is part of the deal. For example, if you've been charged with driving under the influence the deal might be to plead guilty to reckless driving and be sentenced to probation, classes, and community service rather than a DUI with prison time.
Why do plea bargains mostly benefit the state?
As long as you are getting a lesser sentence you may believe that the deal is in your favor, but there is almost always a specific reason for the deal being extended to you in the first place. It's not uncommon for these deals to appear once the state realizes that their evidence against you is flimsy at best. Here are some other common reasons that the state favors plea deals over due process.
Jail Overcrowding: There is a big difference between jail and prison, and jails were always meant to be a temporary solution to hold suspects until their trials. Unfortunately, many of the accused cannot make bail or are not offered bail nor a plea deal. When you add to that the exceedingly slow-moving legal process you can see the problem. If a plea deal is possible it will undoubtedly lead to a release or at least a change of status.
Court Calendar Overcrowding: As mentioned above, court calendars are full and the legal system is not known for doing anything quickly. Plea bargains get the defendant in and out in one visit since when you enter a plea you are also agreeing to forego a jury trial.
Protection of Sources: When a low-level criminal has been caught up in an arrest there is always the potential for that defendant to agree to a plea deal in return for evidence against a bigger criminal. A plea deal allows more anonymity for drug informants.
Know what you are agreeing to and all the ramifications by speaking your attorney beforehand.