Criminal courts across the country are crowded places, as prosecutors bring charges for a variety of minor, intermediate and serious offenses. Judges, of course, are busy too overseeing trials, dealing with motions and performing other duties. This means any criminal matter can take a great deal of time and resources to complete.
To quickly dispose of some of the workload, prosecutors often offer plea deals to criminal defendants. These deals sometimes benefit defendants, as they can result in lesser penalties. Still, not all plea deals are good plea deals. Here are three times you should not accept what a prosecutor is offering you.
1. When you do not understand the deal
Legally, you can only accept a plea deal you understand. Because plea bargains can be full of difficult legalese, though, you might not know exactly what your deal says or means for you. Simply put, if you do not understand every aspect of a deal, it is premature to accept it.
2. When you are not guilty
Some criminal defendants do not realize that accepting a plea bargain usually means pleading guilty to a criminal offense. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, this gives the judge the legal authority to sentence you. If you do not want punishment for a crime you did not commit, taking the prosecutor’s offer might be a terrible idea.
3. When you have a good defense
There is certainly nothing wrong with making prosecutors prove every element of a criminal offense beyond a reasonable doubt. This can be challenging for them to do, especially if you have a good defense. Consequently, you should weigh all your defense options before rushing into a plea deal.
Ultimately, even though accepting a plea bargain might be in your legal and personal interests, you must be sure you are absolutely ready to do so.