The thought of a criminal conviction, regardless of the charges, can be overwhelming. The stakes are high in these cases, after all, oftentimes threatening an accused individual with jail or prison time, as well as financial and reputation damage that can linger for years, decades, or even a lifetime. If you find yourself in the position where you’re facing criminal charges, then you’re probably going to be approached by the prosecution at some point to discuss a plea deal. At that time, you’ll need to know how to assess your case to determine if accepting such a deal is in your best interests.
Analyzing your case
To determine if you should take a plea deal, you need to consider a number of factors. Each of the following need to be carefully assessed:
- What’s at stake: By looking at the worst possible outcome, you at least have a starting point as far as analyzing the risk of going to trial.
- The terms: The terms of the plea deal help illustrate what you have to gain in light of what’s at stake by going to trial. Depending on the facts of the case, you might be able to negotiate for penalties that are much less severe than those that might imposed upon conviction after a trial.
- The strength of your criminal defense: This could help steer your decision-making one way or the other. If you’ve got a sound legal strategy, such as suppressing evidence, then you might be able to mitigate the risk of going to trial. On the other hand, if your defense is pretty weak, then you might have to consider the possibility that a plea deal is your best option.
- The prosecution’s case: This goes hand-in-hand with the strength of your case, of course, but you need to be able to anticipate their arguments to have a realistic sense of how your defense will stand up.
- Your desire to go to trial: Criminal cases are a matter of public record, meaning that everything thrown against you can be known by anyone. That fact, in addition to the stress associated with prolonged litigation, cause a plea deal to look more enticing to some.
Get the guidance you need
Assessing each of these factors can be hard, especially if you don’t have much experience with the criminal justice system. It can also be hard to recognize when a particular course of action is in your best interests. This is where a criminal defense attorney might be able to help. These individuals can help you analyze your situation, guide you through the process, and build the compelling arguments you need to best position yourself given the facts at hand. If that sounds like something that you could benefit from, then it might be time to talk to a criminal defense attorney of your choosing.