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Should I Plead Guilty? Reasons for Taking a Plea Bargain
August 14, 2013
In some criminal cases, the defendant may be offered a plea deal at some point in the proceedings. Also known as a plea bargain, this offer is essentially an agreement between the judge or prosecution and the defendant to reach an amicable arrangement. Usually, the arrangement involves the defendant entering a guilty plea concerning a certain charge in exchange for favorable treatment during the sentencing phase.
Plea bargains in Texas are relatively common. There are several reasons for this, but simple economics is the most apparent cause. It takes a lot of money, time and resources to conduct criminal trials. Plea deals are a way of expediting the judicial process while ensuring that justice is served.
Reasons for Accepting a Plea Bargain
There are many reasons that a defendant in a criminal case may want to accept a plea deal from the prosecution or judge. Although these reasons may vary from one case to another, there are a few that are most common.
Perhaps the most significant reason for a defendant to take a plea deal is concern for his or her future. If a defendant pleads guilty to a lesser charge, he may be able to have the lesser charge expunged from his record in the future. This can give him a “clean slate” and allow him greater employment and financial opportunities for the future.
Another strong reason for taking a plea deal is a desire to end the criminal proceedings as soon as possible. The trial process can interfere with job duties or time with family and friends, and it can increase anxiety and tension.
Plea Bargain Benefits
Taking a plea bargain can be a very smart move on the part of the defendant. Some of the benefits can include:
A lesser sentence: This is one of the most important benefits that a plea deal can provide. Pleading guilty to a lesser charge can often result in reduced fines, less incarceration time or less time on probation.
Financial savings: Trials can require defendants to attend multiple hearings, pay pretrial fees and court costs and many other expenses. Taking a plea bargain can erase or reduce these costs.
Less social stigma: Having even one criminal charge can be embarrassing and socially-devastating. Reducing the number of charges or dropping a charge to a less stigmatizing one is another potential benefit of a plea deal.
Even though plea deals are common, a defendant should only accept a plea bargain after talking to their attorney. Attorneys can negotiate for the best possible plea bargain and make sure the judge and prosecution stick to their promises for a reduced sentence in the future.