Imagine you are a prosecutor. You have a choice. You can risk going to court to prosecute someone, knowing that a jury or judge may rule against you and acquit the defendant. Or you could try and avoid court altogether by persuading the defendant to admit to a crime.
Even if it is a lesser crime than you initially hoped to charge them with, they will be punished, and you will have got a result for your client.
Prosecutors use plea deals to settle vast numbers of criminal cases. One report suggests they resolve between 94% and 97% this way. It is easy for them to secure a plea deal and move on to the next client, retaining their record of success intact.
Why might you consider a plea deal as a defendant?
If you have no hope of being acquitted of the charges, then a plea deal may be a wise move. It can reduce the sentence you face considerably. It can also remove the worry of not knowing how things will turn out.
Why be wary of plea deals?
If you accept a plea deal, you will get a criminal record and almost certainly face some kind of punishment. There is nothing easy about spending part of your life behind bars or facing the lifelong restrictions a criminal record can bring.
There are often defense angles you have not considered. Only when you fully understand all your defense options and fully understand the considerable consequences of accepting a plea deal can you decide. Prosecutors want you to accept their offer and can pressure you to do so. Having help to push back against them will be crucial to getting the best possible outcome.