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Agreeing to a plea deal will save you hundreds of dollars in lawyer fees, and weeks, or even months of complex headache inducing legal proceedings. That’s not to say it’s a flawless agreement. Prosecutors across the country push plea bargains on scared individuals who are afraid of losing years of their life behind bars. For this reason, it’s important to know your rights, and know when it is appropriate to agree to a plea bargain. If you are facing DUI charges in Los Angeles, then you should call a Los Angeles DUI Lawyer to bargain for a lesser sentence to avoid jail time.
If you’re innocent of the crimes you are charged with, then you should not accept the plea bargain and take your case to trial where it is presented to a jury of your peers. To understand when to take a plea deal you must know the motivation for prosecutors, the pros of accepting such a bargain, and the devastating cons of agreeing to an unfavorable plea bargain.
Going to court is a messy process that is heavily influenced by the defendant’s criminal history. Essentially, two people can be arrested for the same crime, and if one suspect has a criminal record, they will serve a harsher punishment than the other defendant. Most people are undereducated on their legal rights and it’s easy for prosecutors to advocate for an unfavorable plea bargain that pushes a case through the system and increases their conviction rate, which ultimately looks good on their résumé. They scare people with the threat of spending lengthy periods of time behind bars, and crippling court fees while they fight for their freedom. This practice has become commonplace for prosecutors, with 94% of state cases settling with a plea bargain.
There are motivating factors that lead to prosecutors advocating for plea bargains, but they aren’t all bad. Jails across the country are overcrowded to the point of cruel and unusual punishment. Plea deals are a way for people to exit the prison system quicker than if they took their case to trial. If you are going to jail for several years, then it’s a good idea to settle for a lesser charge and cut a significant portion of your sentence. Accepting a plea deal is also smart for people who don’t have a criminal record, or have committed a low-level offense. In some situations, a plea bargain can keep a person out of jail entirely, and merely require them to regularly meet with a probation officer.
Unfortunately, accepting an unfavorable plea bargain has devastating real life consequences. Prosecutors who don’t have sufficient evidence to obtain a guilty verdict in court may exaggerate the importance of their evidence in order to intimidate the defendant to sign the agreement. This leads to innocent people pleading guilty to crimes they did not commit to avoid going to a jail where they are subjected to cruel environments, poor living conditions and traumatic events that lead to a psychological disorders.