Thomas Carroll Blauvelt

Informed decision making: The risks of plea bargains

While plea deals can offer a way out for defendants facing serious charges, it’s essential to understand the risks involved in taking a plea deal. They are not always in your best interests, and rushing into accepting the prosecution’s offer is not advisable. 

Below are some pitfalls of agreeing to a plea bargain that you ought to be aware of as a criminal defendant.

Relinquishing certain rights

You essentially waive your right to a trial by jury or judge when you take a plea deal. Pleading guilty means admitting to the charges, leaving no room to challenge the evidence or present your defense. You also give up the right to question witnesses or remain silent to avoid self-incrimination.

Remember, there may be flaws in the prosecution’s case or you could have a viable defense strategy. In such an instance, you may be better off taking your case to trial, where an acquittal is a real possibility.

Limited appeal rights

Your appeal rights become limited once you accept a plea deal and the court enters the judgment. You may only be able to appeal on specific grounds, such as ineffective counsel or coercion, rather than challenging the evidence or the law. 

Other collateral consequences

Accepting a plea deal can lead to unforeseen implications beyond the immediate sentence for the offense you plead guilty to. These may include loss of voting rights, restrictions on firearm ownership and immigration consequences. You will also have a criminal record, which can make it hard to find employment or housing in the future.

Seeking the necessary legal guidance for a qualified assessment of your case and any plea deal offers on the table can help you make the right decision that will protect your interests.

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