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When Is It A Good Idea To Accept A Plea Bargain?
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There are many reasons you may decide to take a plea bargain in a criminal case, and this is a major decision you should discuss with your Fort Lauderdale criminal lawyer first. Many defendants in the criminal justice system are presented with an opportunity to negotiate a plea bargain, partially because criminal courts are very crowed, which means judges and prosecutors feel a lot of pressure to move cases through quickly. A criminal trial can easily take months, while a guilty plea can be arranged in under ten minutes.
Why Accept a Plea Bargain?
Many defendants find the biggest benefit of a plea bargain is receiving a lighter sentence for a less severe charge that might otherwise be taken to court and lost. Even the best defense lawyer cannot promise the outcome of a trial, which is usually unpredictable. Plea bargains do give both the prosecution and defense some control.
There are other benefits to accepting a plea bargain, which you can discuss further with your defense attorney. If you're represented by a private defense lawyer, you may save a lot of money on attorneys' fees by accepting a plea, as it will usually take more time and money to bring your case to trial instead of negotiating and accepting a plea.
Defendants held in custody without the right to bail or the cash for bail, and those who do not qualify for release on their own recognizance, may also be allowed out of jail right after a judge accepts a plea. Depending on the offense, it's possible to get out on probation with or without community service.
Plea bargains also resolve the matter much faster, as some defendants simply want a resolution to the stress and going to trial means a much longer wait time.
Your defense lawyer will probably explain to you that a pleading guilty or no contest for a reduction in charges may look better on your record than the convictions you may receive if you go to trial. This will be important if you are ever convicted in the future! Even people who have never been arrested may enjoy the benefits of getting a charge reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor. For example, some professional licenses must be forfeited after a felony conviction, and many future employers will not want to hire someone convicted of a felony.
Your Fort Lauderdale criminal lawyer will also walk you through other advantages of accepting a plea bargain. Depending on your personal feelings, you may want a charge on your record that has less social stigma, and you may want to avoid publicity. You may also be interested in keeping other people out of the case.
While plea bargains are not always in your best interest, they may be the best option in your case. You should always discuss this option with your defense attorney and weigh the pros and cons before pleading.
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