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3 reasons to decline a plea bargain

On Behalf of | Feb 1, 2024 | Blog, Criminal Defense |

If you face charges for a crime, the prosecution may offer you a plea bargain, or an offer to plead guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for avoiding trial. While a plea bargain seems attractive, accepting one may not always be in your best interest.

There are a few reasons to think twice before taking a plea deal.

1. You could win at trial

While trials carry some risk, they also provide the opportunity to challenge the prosecutor’s claims and present evidence of your innocence. Do not assume that conviction is inevitable. Juries acquit defendants more often than many realize. Consider your likelihood of winning at trial before deciding to take a plea.

2. A plea deal can have long-term consequences

Pleading guilty brings consequences beyond potential jail time. It creates a permanent criminal record that can affect future employment, housing and finances. In fact, research shows that 94% of employers conduct criminal background checks for candidates. The consequences of a plea bargain may outweigh the risks of going to trial, especially for minor crimes.

3. The offer could improve

Prosecutors often start with a harsh offer, expecting to negotiate down. If you demonstrate a willingness to go to trial, the prosecutor may sweeten the deal to avoid the time and resources required for trial. Be open to negotiation, but do not accept an unreasonable offer right away.

While plea bargains provide a simple resolution, accepting one without exploring your options and the evidence against you carries risk. Understanding the potential ramifications of accepting a plea helps you decide on the right path forward for your case.