When you’re charged with a criminal offense, the prosecution is going to threaten you with severe penalties. This will probably include jail and prison time. That can be intimidating, which is why it’s an effective method for prosecutors to obtain guilty pleas.
Before resolving your case through a plea agreement, though, you should fully analyze the facts of your case to determine if you have strong defense options that you can utilize. After all, taking your case to trial may be the best way to beat the prosecution and protect your future.
But what if the evidence is stacked against you? In those instances, you might want to consider taking a plea deal, but you shouldn’t just accept the first offer that the prosecution offers you. Instead, you should be prepared to negotiate for the best resolution possible.
How to get the most of a plea bargain
Agreeing to a conviction and associated penalties isn’t easy, but sometimes it’s the best outcome that you can get. Even in these circumstances, though, you might be able to keep some control over your future and minimize the damage that’s done. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your plea bargain, which will hopefully insulate you as much as possible:
- Educate yourself: Look at the statutory minimums and maximums as they pertain to your case. This will give you an idea of where the potential penalties could fall and how much leeway you have to argue for something less severe.
- Understand the motivations: Many prosecutors just want to clear cases and make a record that a conviction was obtained. In those instances, you might be able to more aggressively push for lighter penalties. If the prosecutor wants to use your case to make an example, though, then you’ll have to modify your strategy.
- Be realistic: It’s hard to do, but you’ll need to temper your expectations as you head into plea bargain negotiations. You’re not going to avoid all penalties. By being realistic, you’ll be more engaged in the process and more receptive to finding the best outcome possible.
- Understand the dynamics of your case: If you can articulate the strengths and weaknesses of your case, then you’ll have a better sense of how hard you can push the prosecution when negotiating your plea deal. After all, they probably don’t want to risk a conviction if taking the case to trial is going to jeopardize that outcome. So, make sure you know the facts of your case and how you can use the law to your advantage to push for a better plea deal.
- Know your goals: For most people facing criminal charges, avoiding jail and prison in their number one priority. But there may be other priorities that you want to get out of your plea bargain. For example, you might be interested in having your case dropped from a felony to a misdemeanor, or you might want to avoid a conviction for a specific crime that would jeopardize your career or your professional license. Know what you want to get out of your plea deal before sitting down at the table.
Aggressively protect your interests in your criminal case
Admitting guilt can be hard to swallow, especially when there are severe penalties on the line. But you might be able to minimize the impact a conviction has on your life by being thoroughly prepared to advocate for your position during plea bargaining. To learn more about how you can do that, please continue to read our blog and browse the rest of our website.