Should You Take a Plea Deal?

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In every case in the United States criminal justice system, defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Just because you are arrested does not mean you will be convicted of a crime. There are two different ways you can be convicted – a jury or judge finds you guilty at trial or you voluntarily plead guilty to the offense. It is never wise to plead guilty to a crime before speaking with an experienced Fargo criminal defense attorney, as you might not be aware of all the possible implications of a guilty plea. Additionally, a lawyer might be able to obtain a favorable plea deal for you. 

What is a Plea Deal?

Many people have heard about “plea deals,” which are also commonly called plea agreements or plea bargains. A plea deal is an agreement between the prosecutor and defense attorney, which often results in lesser consequences for the defendant as long as they agree to plead guilty and avoid a trial. 

Defense attorneys can present mitigating factors to the prosecutor, raise possible weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case and more to try to obtain a plea deal. Often, plea deals involve the following:

  • Dropping certain charges if you face multiple allegations
  • Reducing the charge you will plead to
  • Recommending a lesser sentence to the judge, which often involves probation instead of jail time

Benefits and Drawbacks

A plea deal can be beneficial for many defendants, as the sentence is often less severe than it would be for a conviction at trial, and the uncertainty is largely removed. However, there are also many possible adverse effects of a plea deal, as well. A guilty plea results in a conviction on your criminal record, which can have many lasting consequences, including:

  • Immigration consequences for non-citizens
  • Employment and career challenges
  • Sex offender registry
  • Disqualification for certain government benefits
  • Trouble finding rental housing

In addition, the judge does not have to heed the prosecutor’s recommendation and can instead issue a more serious sentence despite the terms of your plea deal. If you enter a guilty plea, it is very difficult to later withdraw it, as the legal standard to do so is extremely high. 

So, is it ever a good idea to plead guilty? In short, plea deals can be the right choice for many criminal defendants. However, it is critical that you fully understand all of your options and their implications before you take a plea deal. This is something you want to discuss in-depth with your defense attorney.

Contact An Experienced Fargo Criminal Defense Lawyer About Your Case Today

The criminal justice system can be confusing, so it is essential to have the guidance and representation of an experienced criminal defense attorney in Fargo throughout the process. If you would like to learn about how we can help, contact experienced criminal defense attorney Tatum O’Brien, by email, or contact the office of O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Foss by calling 701-235-8000 or toll-free 877-235-8002.

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