If you are facing felony charges, such as those for white collar crimes or drug trafficking, you may not understand that a great deal depends on the decisions the prosecutor makes about how your case will proceed. The prosecutor will examine police reports and evidence investigators collect before deciding what charges to file against you.
It is possible that you may face more than one charge and even multiple counts. The prosecutor may charge you with a combination of felonies and misdemeanors to provide room for bargaining. It is common for those who stand accused to receive a plea deal before going to trial. If the prosecutor in your case approaches you with a deal, you would be wise to seek legal counsel before making a move.
Pros and cons of accepting a deal
A plea deal can take many forms. The prosecutor may offer to reduce your charges, recommend a shorter sentence or negotiate other terms in exchange for your guilty plea to other charges. You may receive an offer if you agree to provide information to police or to stipulate that certain facts in evidence are true.
Plea bargaining has several benefits, including saving the taxpayer the expense of a trial. Accepting a deal may mean you serve a lighter sentence than you might have with a jury trial. However, the prosecuting attorney is not looking out for your best interests. Here are five reasons why you will want sound legal advice before you accept a plea offer:
- Accepting a deal means you waive your rights to a fair trial, to the chance to confront your accusers and to protection from self-incrimination.
- You may be agreeing to facts that a skilled attorney could dispute in court and which could follow you for the rest of your life.
- If a conviction for this offense would be your third strike, agreeing to plead guilty could mean severe sentence enhancements.
- A plea bargain may result in unintended consequences, such as having to register as a sex offender if you agree to a guilty plea for certain charges.
- You may end up with a lesser sentence, but you will still have a conviction on your record.
If the facts in your case are questionable, or if you feel police and investigators obtained their evidence by violating your rights, accepting a guilty plea, even to lesser charges, may not be the best option. Having an Ohio attorney who understands your case and the potential consequences you face can guide you in making a prudent choice.