If you are facing criminal charges, you may be feeling more and more anxious as the time for your trial draws closer. This may be especially true if you are seeing the evidence against you growing. You may be imagining the jury seeing the evidence and finding no option but to convict you of the most serious charges you face.
A conviction for a felony charge, such as homicide, robbery, fraud or weapons charges can mean an extended stay in prison. It can result in separation from your loved ones, loss of your job and other hardships that may follow you for the rest of your life. If this possibility worries you, you may have the option of considering a plea bargain.
When is a deal right for me?
Prosecutors often extend offers to those accused of crimes. These offers, called plea deals, can include recommendations to the judge of a reduced sentence in exchange for other considerations, such as your guilty plea to lesser charges. A prosecutor may accept your plea of guilty to some charges and drop the charges for other offenses. Working out a deal with the prosecutor means you will not go to trial. Instead, you will appear before the judge who will hear your plea and hand down your sentence.
While these may sound preferable to facing a jury with mounting evidence against you, there are some times when accepting such a deal may not be in your best interests. It is wise to consider these and other factors:
- If you are accused of a crime you did not commit, you may want your chance in court to refute the evidence against you.
- Accepting a plea may mean a shorter sentence or other benefits for you, but it also means you will still have a conviction on your record.
- If you already have felony convictions on your record, especially for violent crimes, pleading guilty could qualify you for penalties under Florida’s “three strikes” law.
- By offering a plea deal, the prosecutor may convince you to admit facts into evidence that could place you at risk of future charges or other negative outcomes.
Dealing with any criminal charges is something it is best to do with the assistance and advocacy of a skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney. Your attorney can help you examine the pros and cons of any plea offer and fight aggressively to protect your rights throughout your case.