Plea Bargaining in Criminal Cases: Pros and Cons

Very few criminal cases go to trial. In fact, it has been estimated that well over 90% of all criminal cases result in a plea bargain. A plea bargain is an agreement between the defendant and prosecutor in a criminal case. This type of agreement allows a criminal defendant to either plead guilty to a lesser charge or to plead guilty to the original charge and receive a lesser sentence. If you’ve been charged with a crime, you may be faced with the decision of whether to accept a plea bargain. In this article, we discuss the pros and cons of plea bargaining in a criminal case. 

Plea Bargain Pros

There are several benefits to accepting a plea bargain in a criminal case, including: 

Certainty: One of the most important benefits of accepting a plea bargain is that doing so removes the uncertainty that accompanies a criminal trial. As a criminal defendant, there is no telling what will happen if your case goes to trial. Taking your case before a jury is always a risk, and accepting a plea bargain removes this risk. 

Time: A criminal case can take a long time to resolve. In addition, a conviction can result in significant jail or prison time. A plea bargain, however, typically reduces both the time to resolve the case and the resulting sentence. 

Outcome: A good plea bargain deal usually provides incentive to the defendant to accept it, such as a less severe punishment, reduced charges, or both. 

Plea Bargain Cons

Although accepting a plea bargain has several benefits, it also has drawbacks, including:

Criminal record: Accepting a plea bargain often involves pleading guilty to a lesser crime than the original charge. Although this is beneficial, it still results in a criminal record. 

Innocent defendants: Due to the uncertainty of criminal trials, innocent defendants are sometimes persuaded to accept plea bargains. Unfortunately, this can leave an innocent defendant burdened with a permanent criminal record.  

Subpar police investigations: It has been argued that plea bargains can result in poor police investigations. In other words, due to the prevalence of plea bargains, some believe that law enforcement authorities often rely on making deals rather than properly investigating the facts of their cases, which can have negative consequences for criminal defendants.

Deciding Whether to Accept a Plea Bargain

Determining whether to accept a plea bargain is an important decision. Therefore, if you are a criminal defendant, you should discuss this matter with an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Your attorney will carefully evaluate your case and help you determine whether a plea bargain is the right path to pursue.  

Contact a Virginia Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you are facing criminal charges in Virginia, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. At Walker Jones, PC, our criminal defense lawyers are highly experienced in defending defendants against all types of criminal charges. When you come to us for assistance, we will review the facts of your case and plan the most effective defense possible. Please contact us to schedule an initial consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer. 

Posted in: Criminal Defense