Even though most criminal courts across the country are crowded places, you have a right to a speedy disposition of your charges. To clear their caseloads and move on with other matters, many prosecutors offer defendants plea deals. Judges tend to like pleas too, as they often have more on their dockets than is reasonably manageable.
As many as 97% of federal prosecutions end in pleas, and the numbers for state offenses are likely similar. While taking a plea may be appropriate in your case, doing so may also be a major mistake. Here are three signs you may not want to accept a prosecutor’s plea deal.
1. You do not understand the plea or its consequences
Before accepting your plea, a judge must determine you understand it. Still, the law can be incredibly complex. If you do not understand the prosecutor’s offer or what it means to your situation, you are probably not ready to accept the deal.
2. You have a defense
Even if you committed the offense with which prosecutors have charged you, there is nothing wrong with making them prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If you have a defense, it may be in your interests to mount it in front of a jury. After all, if prosecutors cannot prove their case, you may secure an acquittal.
3. You are innocent
There are plenty of people sitting in prison who did not do the crime. Some of them, unfortunately, agreed to a prosecutor’s plea deal. Not only may pleading guilty expose you to legal consequences, but you also may have a criminal record for the rest of your life. Even worse, you may waive valuable rights.
Put simply, if you did not commit the crime, you may not want to say you did by accepting the prosecutor’s offer and proceeding with the plea deal.