Issues Involving Plea Bargains

There is such a log jam in many courts that the quest for a fast and speedy trial is problematic at best. Many individuals in criminal cases are urged to take plea bargains in order to free up court resources. Whether this is in the best interests of the defendant, however, is another matter, and it should be discussed with an experienced South King County criminal defense lawyer.

A plea bargain generally consists of the defendant agreeing to plead guilty to a lesser charge. The prosecution offers an incentive in return. Often, this is in the form of not prosecuting for a greater charge; in other instances, the defendant is offered a reduced sentence or even a dismissal of other charges.

During the early stages of a criminal case, it is generally unwise to accept a plea bargain. The full extent of the charges may not yet be known, and more investigation in the case needs to be conducted. Indeed, in most jurisdictions, the defendant is not able to enter a guilty plea at the initial appearance.

Often, prosecutors will first offer a plea bargain at arraignment. They may be experiencing pressure to get cases off their books quickly. Other times, this is done when the defendant is unable to make bail.

On occasion, a defendant pleads guilty to a misdemeanor and gets released on probation. This can lead to future arrests, often for greater offenses, if the defendant is likely to have difficulty in following the probation requirements to the letter.

If the defendant does accept a plea bargain rather than take the case to trial, he will thereafter have a criminal record. This can be particularly damaging to his future if the plea bargain is to a felony. However, depending upon the possible greater charges and likelihood of being acquitted before a jury, this may be in his best interests.

If you are faced with fighting a criminal case, you need to discuss with counsel any plea bargains before making what might be a rash decision that will harm you in the long run. Do not hesitate to contact South King County criminal defense lawyer today for a free consultation.