Should you take a plea bargain? Here are the pros and cons

A criminal charge in Atlantic City or other areas can have long lasting and even devastating consequences depending on the nature of the charges. For instance, even a conviction for driving under the influence can lead to jail time, job loss and cost thousands of dollars in fees and fines. In the hope of lessening these kinds of consequences, many people facing criminal charges will negotiate a plea deal.

In general, over 90 percent of criminal convictions are a result of negotiating a guilty plea. Plea bargaining is often a complicated process that has absolutely nothing to do with an individual's guilt or innocence. If you are facing criminal charges and thinking about taking a plea deal, here are some pros and cons you should consider.

The judge has incentives to accept the deal

The majority of judges across the country have to constantly deal with an overcrowded docket. They are often open to strategies that will alleviate the overcrowding. In addition, judges are typically aware of overcrowding issues in the prison system. A judge may accept a plea deal to process out an offender who is not going to receive much jail time.

Prosecutors have incentives to plea bargain

The prosecutor likely has his or her own reasons to participate in plea bargaining as well. For example, most prosecutors are, like judges, overburdened with a large caseload. Plea bargaining will not only help lighten that caseload but also comes with an assured conviction. In addition, if there is a co-defendant involved, a plea deal might help strengthen the prosecutor's case against that individual.

Reasons a defendant will negotiate a plea deal

For defendants, a plea bargain can lead to a reduced sentence and lesser charges. If you take a plea deal, you may end up with a less serious offense on your criminal record and you may not spend as much time in jail as you would have if you lost in trial.

Accepting a plea deal might also reduce the amount of money you spend on legal fees. However, this is where the major problem arises with negotiating a plea deal. Many defendants will agree to a plea bargain and accept a lighter sentence even if they are not actually guilty of the crime if they cannot afford to pay for legal help during a trial.

Deciding to take a plea deal is never easy and it will often depend on the specific circumstances surrounding your case and other factors. If you are facing criminal charges, be sure to examine all available options and scenarios before accepting a plea deal.

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