Many criminal cases never make it to the jury trial phase. The vast majority of charges are resolved through plea deals that are made between the defendant and the prosecutor. There are many points that defendants need to know about these so that they can make an informed decision about them.

First, you’ll likely need a lawyer to obtain a plea deal. Many prosecutors will only deal with other attorneys in order to come up with an agreement. If you plan on representing yourself, you’ll likely need to work diligently on preparing your case for a trial.

Second, there are many different aspects of the case that can be included in a plea deal. The two most common have to do with the sentence that’s going to be recommended to the judge and the charge the person will plead guilty to. It is possible that you can have the prosecutor change the charge to one that isn’t as serious, which might help you in the future.

Third, you can’t appeal the sentence or the conviction when you agree to a plea deal. Part of the deal is that you waive your right to appeal. Because of the nature of a plea deal, you should only agree to one if you are guilty of the crime you’re accused of.

Fourth, there is a chance that the court won’t accept the deal as it is written. The prosecution can recommend a sentence, but the court can change that. Remember that you might have to deal with something added or changed when you accept the plea deal.

It is imperative that you think about how this defense option will affect you right now and later. Criminal convictions, even when they are due to a plea, can have serious impacts on a person’s future.