When facing criminal charges, you have several options available. You may have heard the term plea bargain before. This is one of your potential options.
But what is a plea bargain? What are the benefits and drawbacks? Should you accept one if the option is on the table?
What are the benefits?
Cornell Law School examines the potential benefits and drawbacks of a plea bargain. This situation assumes you already have a legal expert on your side, which you will need when traversing matters like plea bargains.
First, the prosecutors likely want to secure a guilty plea. This prevents the case from going to court. It saves everyone time and money. It also frees up the overcrowded court system for other, more complex or severe cases. Many judges rely on this as a way to quickly process out cases. The Bureau of Justice Assistance even states that 90 to 95 percent of cases result in plea bargaining.
To secure your plea of guilt, the prosecutor offers a reduction of charges. This could be the severity of the charge or the number of charges you face. In some cases, they may offer a plea bargain for providing information or testimony against other parties involved in a crime. You also could have the option of pleading no contest, which allows you to avoid pleading guilty.
Living with a guilty plea
On the down side, pleading guilty is exactly that. You admit to committing a crime, whether or not you actually did it. You face penalties and the mark goes on your record. This could haunt you later in life when you try to find housing or jobs.