Plea Bargains Explained
Criminal charges can lead to feelings of desperation. But it’s important to remember that there is help available to you! One common reason that people seek out assistance from an experienced criminal defense attorney is to get their charges reduced. One way to do this is to work with your criminal defense attorney to negotiate a plea bargain. Plea bargains carry a multitude of benefits that can lead to better well-being and quality of life down the road. Keep reading to learn about plea bargains.
What is a Plea Bargain?
FindLaw defines a plea bargain as occurring when the defendant agrees to plead guilty – usually to a lesser charge than one for which the defendant could stand trial – in exchange for a more lenient sentence, or so that certain related charges are dismissed.
Agreeing to plead guilty in a plea bargain can result in the following benefits and more:
- Getting the matter over with quickly.
Being charged with a crime is a highly stressful ordeal. Efficient resolution through a plea bargain is a desirable solution to stress and anxiety because a plea bargain usually requires less time in court than a trial. For example, if you are charged with a crime while traveling, a plea bargain might help you return home sooner. In addition, employed defendants can benefit from resolving their case in one court appearance through a plea bargain instead of missing work repeatedly.
- Having fewer or less serious offenses on your public record.
According to Nolo, pleading guilty or no contest in exchange for a reduction in the number of charges or the seriousness of the offenses looks a lot better on a defendant’s record than the convictions that might result following a trial. This is especially beneficial in the event that you are convicted again in the future.
For example, if an initial DWI offense had been bargained down to a lesser charge like reckless driving, a defendant might avoid jail time for the second DWI arrest. Even if you are never re-arrested, getting a charge reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor can be a critical benefit. Nolo points out that a plea bargain could help you retain your professional license, increase your future job opportunities, and allow you to possess firearms or vote.
- Having a less socially stigmatizing offense on your public record.
An aggressive criminal defense attorney can help you reduce charges that are perceived as socially offensive to less offensive charges in exchange for a guilty plea, according to Nolo. For example, a prosecutor may reduce a molestation or rape case to an assault. Conviction of the lesser charge could result in benefits such as avoiding having to register as a sex offender for life. In addition, a lesser offense may reduce the likelihood of being stigmatized by family members and friends. Even more importantly, defendants convicted of stigmatizing offenses are sometimes at a greater risk of being seriously injured (or killed) in prison.
- Moving from Jail to Prison
Often, conditions are more favorable in prisons than jails. According to Nolo, convicts placed in prison for a decided length of time may have more privileges than defendants awaiting trial in jail.
- Avoiding publicity. This doesn’t just apply to famous people, but anyone who depends on their reputation to earn a living, and/or anyone who wants to avoid bringing further embarrassment to their families and communities. To plead guilty or no contest means that defendants get to minimize news coverage and public information regarding their plea bargain. In plea bargains, a defendant’s background is rarely explored to the extent that it might be in a trial.
- Avoiding deportation. According to Nolo, noncitizens who plead guilty may be deported after they have finished serving their misdemeanor or felony sentences. The law requires defense lawyers to inform noncitizens that deportation is a potential consequence of a guilty plea. For noncitizens charged with crimes, a plea bargain is an opportunity to plead guilty to an offense that reduces the likelihood of deportation.
Are you facing criminal charges in McAllen, Texas? Your future is at stake! It’s time to get the legal assistance that makes all the difference in the world. With 12 years of experience in both the Federal and Texas state criminal justice systems, Juan Tijerina is prepared to fight for your rights and work tirelessly towards your best possible outcomes. Call (956) 261-5609 or contact us online today!
4016 N. 22nd Street
McAllen, Texas 78504
Phone: (956) 261-5609
Phone: (512) 900-1126