Have You Been Charged With A Serious Crime?

Is it better to arrange a plea deal or take a case to trial?

On Behalf of | Feb 14, 2024 | Criminal Law

Many people accused of breaking the law maintain that they did nothing illegal or that mitigating factors mean they had no criminal intent. However, they may feel as though they have few options for resolving the allegations against them. Some individuals who claim they did not break the law plead guilty because they worry about the consequences of a conviction. Others may decide to take their case to trial in hopes of proving that they did not really break the law.

How can someone hoping to minimize the impact of upcoming criminal charges decide between negotiating a plea deal and taking their case to trial?

The risks of a plea deal

The first and most important concern about plea deals is whether they truly limit the consequences for the defendant. Simply entering a guilty plea does not restrict the judge from imposing the harshest penalties possible given the charges against someone.

A plea deal typically needs to include very specific terms to protect someone from the worst-case scenario. Often, a defendant needs to have something to offer in exchange for that lenience, such as testimony against other people implicated in the incident. Given that a plea deal does not necessarily protect someone from severe consequences, they may need help with the process of negotiating terms and ensuring that the agreement with the prosecutor could actually protect them.

The challenges of going to trial

Going to trial can be a challenging and lengthy process. People often wait many months for their first day in court, and a criminal trial could take a very long time to complete. While criminal defendants have certain rights, like the right of discovery, access to the state’s evidence doesn’t automatically ensure a successful defense strategy. Additionally, trials can prove costly. It can take a lot of time with a lawyer to establish a solid defense strategy and even longer in court to implement it.

However, particularly when there is complex but compelling evidence helping to establish someone’s innocence, a trial may be the best way of avoiding a conviction and mitigating the potential consequences that a charge could have on someone’s life.

Discussing the state’s case at length with an attorney can help someone determine whether negotiating a plea deal or taking the case to trial is a better option given their unique circumstances.