If you are facing a criminal charge in Texas, the prosecutors in your case might offer you a plea deal, also called a plea bargain. A plea bargain is an agreement between the defendant and the prosecution. In this agreement, the defendant agrees to plead guilty to one or more charges in exchange for the prosecution dropping the remaining charges. Many criminal cases do not go to trial; instead, they are resolved in a plea bargain.
If you are the defendant facing criminal charges, you should carefully consider whether to take a plea bargain or not. An experienced criminal defense lawyer will advise you as to whether or not accepting a plea deal is your best option. Ultimately, however, the decision will be up to you. There are benefits and drawbacks to accepting a plea bargain.
What Happens to Defendants Who Plead Guilty?
When a defendant pleads guilty or enters a no-contest plea, this establishes the defendant’s guilt. As a result, your criminal conviction will become part of your criminal record. Even if the charge is less than your original charge, you will still face repercussions, possibly for a long period of time. As a result of your conviction, you might lose certain privileges like the right to vote or to own a gun. You might lose your right to appeal your criminal conviction after entering into a plea bargain.
The Benefits of Accepting a Plea Bargain
Every case is unique. Keep in mind that prosecutors are not offering a plea bargain out of kindness. Instead, prosecutors have an agenda. Any offer that they give you is focused on their own interests. Sometimes, prosecutors do not have enough evidence to prove every element of the crime with which you are charged. In other cases, the prosecutors might be under pressure to get a conviction for a lesser crime.
An experienced lawyer may be able to negotiate a plea bargain. This plea bargain might allow you to seal or expunge your criminal record after your probation period is over. In this situation, you will not be required to disclose your arrest or your conviction. However, every time a defendant accepts a plea bargain, he or she is risking the loss of the chance to be declared not guilty by the court.
The Disadvantages of Accepting a Plea Bargain
When defendants are under extreme pressure, it is easy for them to accept a plea bargain. The thought of serving less jail time is one of the key reasons defendants accept a plea deal. Not accepting a plea bargain is always a somewhat risky move. In some cases, prosecutors do not have the evidence they need to prove your original charges. If you can succeed at trial with a not-guilty verdict, you will walk away without a criminal record.
Contact Our Criminal Defense Lawyers Today
At the Law Firm of Christopher Abel, we are ready to give you the criminal defense you deserve. If you are facing criminal charges in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, we can advocate for your rights. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation.