When Does a Plea Agreement Make Sense?

shutterstock_245111674It is a fact that most of the criminal cases in the United States (over 90 percent, according to some estimates) are resolved through a plea agreement, an agreement between the prosecution and the defendant wherein the defendant typically acknowledges responsibility for some crime in return for the prosecution recommending a lighter sentence. But whereas some criminal defendants acknowledge that a plea agreement is probably the best way to resolve their charges, other defendants balk at the idea of confessing to a crime that they believe they did not commit.

Regardless of one’s personal feelings on the topic, criminal defendants who are considering a plea agreement may want to ask themselves the following questions:

  1. How persuasive is the evidence against me? This requires the defendant to look objectively at the evidence the prosecution has and ask whether he or she believes the prosecution has a “good” case. While in general no one should plead guilty to a crime he or she did not commit, an individual who insists she did not drive while intoxicated but looks and sounds drunk on a police car camera may wish to think about trying to reach a plea agreement in order escape some of the more detrimental consequences of a conviction.
  2. What sentence am I facing vs. what sentence am I being offered? Most plea agreements involve the defendant pleading to a lesser crime and/or the prosecution agreeing to recommend a lesser sentence. Where the difference between the offense charged or sentence faced and the plea agreement are not great, the defendant may not have much to lose by insisting on a trial. But where the defendant is facing a severe penalty and the prosecution is offering a far less severe penalty (or is facing imprisonment and is being offered probation), the defendant may wish to consider whether a plea agreement is in his or her best interest.
  3. What personal factors are important to me? Plea agreements are often preferable where the crime charged involves particularly sensitive allegations, or where a defendant would be embarrassed by allegations being made at a trial. While the charges a defendant pleads to are made public, the allegations underlying the plea may be able to be concealed. To some defendants, this privacy outweighs the sentence he or she receives as part of the agreement.

Speak with a Federal Criminal Defense Attorney

The decision of whether to enter into a plea agreement is an important decision that should be thoroughly discussed with an experienced Chicago criminal defense attorney. Just because most cases are resolved through a plea agreement does not mean that one is right for your case. Not only can an attorney help you decide whether a plea agreement is right for you, an attorney can also help you secure the most favorable plea agreement terms possible. If you have been charged with a crime, contact the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel LLC, Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney right away at 312-270-0999 for a free consultation. We will vigorously represent your best interests and can help you receive the best possible outcome for your case.

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