In many ways, the modern court system attempts to force people into accepting plea bargains. It is common for prosecutors to charge people with severe crimes in the hope of pushing them toward accepting a plea for a more realistic and reasonable offense. Countless innocent people may plead guilty as a result of fear of terrible consequences.
Court takes a lot of time and costs a lot of money. Individuals worried about the expense of retaining a private defense attorney and missing work for court may think that agreeing to a plea bargain is their best option. Popular media certainly helps to reinforce this concept. Police and legal dramas often show individuals receiving surprisingly lenient sentences if they agree to a plea bargain.
However, a plea bargain effectively means that you accept and publicly declare your guilt for the crime. It also leaves you vulnerable to significant consequences. Even individuals who are innocent may imagine that their best interests are served better by avoiding the embarrassment of a public trial then by defending themselves. That mistake could impact them for the rest of their lives.
Plea bargains help keep cases out of court
Taking someone accused of a crime to trial is quite expensive. The state has to pay for a prosecutor, the time in the court and the efforts of law enforcement and laboratories to secure a conviction. By offering people plea bargains, prosecutors secure high rates of conviction without incurring the expense involved with building a criminal case in court.
In other words, plea bargains benefit prosecutors because it makes them look competent and good at their jobs. They benefit police officers because the people they arrest wind up convicted, which improves their solve rate for crimes.
Even the state itself benefits because it incurs overall less expense. However, the person who agrees to a plea bargain winds up with a criminal conviction on their record and could still face significant penalties under law.
If you really intend to accept a plea bargain, you need advice
Many times, there is room for negotiation with a plea bargain. However, the average person accused of a crime doesn't have the personal knowledge or legal leverage to improve the terms offered to them. Working with a New Jersey criminal defense attorney means that there is someone there to negotiate better terms for your plea bargain.
From reduced fines to avoiding a criminal record, there are many minor details that can make a plea bargain much more attractive. An attorney can also help impress upon the prosecutor how weak their case may actually be, which could help you avoid any kind of criminal consequences. Finally, working with an attorney means that you will have the ability to defend yourself if you reject the plea bargain and decide to go to court.