When charged with a crime, you always have the right to a jury trial. But the vast majority of people forgo this right in favor of a plea agreement. The reasons for taking a plea vary on the situation, but when you’re facing charges, it’s best to weigh the pros and cons of a plea agreement vs going to trial. But you shouldn’t do it alone.
Before accepting any plea in Indianapolis, speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney about how it affects you now and in the future. The case against you may not be as strong as the police or prosecutor says, and you may be able to get a better deal.
If you’ve been arrested and have questions about accepting a plea agreement, contact Hessler Law at (317) 886-8800 for a free case consultation.
Why Choose a Plea Agreement?
People accept pleas for various reasons, but usually, it centers around resolving things quickly and with less negative impact. However, there are usually unintended consequences of accepting a plea. So be sure to weigh the benefits with the potential drawbacks.
The Benefits of Taking a Plea
- The prosecution has a weak case. While the prosecuting attorney won’t tell you this, your own attorney can conclude when the case against you isn’t strong. There may be a serious charge coupled with a bunch of lesser charges that can easily be thrown out. If that’s the case, the prosecutor will likely negotiate for a favorable plea agreement.
- Plea agreements save money. You have the right to a trial by jury, but no one really tells you how much it’s going to cost. Trials can last for weeks, and costs quickly add up. Depending on your case, you’re looking at attorney’s fees, costs for expert witnesses, and other court-related expenses. If you’re found guilty anyway, you will also likely face fines and court fees. A plea agreement comes with costs, too, but they re not as steep as a trial.
- Plea agreements save time. Trials eat up both cash and time. If you’re working, your job will have to be put on hold so you can sit in a courtroom. When you’re not in court, you could be spending hours strategizing with your attorney. Your family and home life could suffer as a result.
- You can avoid harsh penalties. You may choose to go to trial because you think you can win. But what if you lose? Even if you think your case is airtight, there is always a possibility that the jury will see it differently. If you lose your trial, the judge can sentence you to the maximum, which could mean thousands of dollars in fine or decades in prison. For many, the intimidating outcome of a loss is just not worth the trial.
The Cons of Plea Agreements
Agreeing to a plea bargain is a difficult decision. When you submit a plea, you have to plead guilty to the charges the agreement suggests. You also forfeit the right to a jury trial, and you likely give up the chance to appeal your plea if you decide later that you should not have pled guilty.
In the short term, accepting the plea may seem appealing, but it likely means living with a conviction on your record and diminished opportunities down the line. This can be difficult to come to terms with, especially if you think there was a chance you could win at trial. It’s important to remember if you ultimately chose the plea agreement route, your reasons for doing so were likely more beneficial than a trial would have been.
How Your Defense Lawyer Can Help
Criminal court cases can be challenging for everyone involved. If you go to trial, you may win. You could also be hit with an enormous fine and lengthy sentence. Deciding whether a plea agreement or a trial is right for you is not a decision you should make on your own. Instead, contact attorney Sean Hessler.
As a former prosecutor, he knows the ins and outs of plea agreements and as a defense lawyer, he has represented many clients in similar situations and around Marion County. He can explain the process behind plea agreements and help you determine the best choice for you.