Should I Take the Plea Bargain?
Criminal defense is a complicated area of the law. In the most general sense, it is the practice of developing defense strategies that can be used in the courtroom to demonstrate that an individual charged with a crime is not guilty of the crime. These strategies often use evidence related to the alleged crime to show definitively that the accused individual had no involvement with it or that the prosecution’s evidence is not strong enough to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he or she committed the crime.
Sometimes, it is just about impossible to show that an individual is not guilty of his or her charge. When this is the case, the individual’s lawyer can try different strategies to reduce the severity of the penalties the defendant faces, such as having him or her enter a diversion program or taking a plea bargain to have the charge reduced.
How a Plea Bargain Works
With a plea bargain, the defendant agrees to plea “nolo contendere” (no contest) or guilty to a reduced charge. If the defendant is facing multiple criminal charges, the agreement could also be to have one or more of the charges dropped.
A significant percentage of the convictions entered in the United States are entered through plea bargains, rather than through courts finding defendants guilty through trial. This is because plea bargains can be quite attractive to defendants and to courts, who view them as ways to save time, money, and in a defendant’s case, a way to avoid the most severe penalties he or she faces for the original charge.
Once the plea is entered, the defendant faces the same processes and penalties as he or she would have faced through a conviction reached through trial. The conviction is entered on the defendant’s record and depending on the nature of the charge, he or she might be able to have it expunged later.
Deciding Whether to Take a Plea Bargain
If you are offered the chance to take a plea bargain, you and your lawyer have a lot to consider. Taking the plea bargain eliminates your chance of being found innocent at trial. It also means you will have a conviction on your record, which can have lifelong repercussions for you.
There is also the issue of how your civil rights work alongside a plea bargain. By taking the plea, you waive your right to a jury trial, the right to cross-examine witnesses, and the right to avoid self-incrimination. Sometimes, avoiding years in prison and steep fines are worth waiving these rights and accepting the conviction. In other cases, it is worth your while to fight the charge.
Work with an Experienced Naperville Criminal Defense Lawyer
Every criminal case is unique, and yours requires a unique defense strategy to give you the best possible chance of your charge being lowered or dismissed. Sometimes, a plea bargain is part of this strategy. Contact our team of experienced Naperville criminal defense lawyers at Law Office of Glenn M. Sowa, LLC today to set up your initial consultation in our office to discuss plea bargains and other options for your case.