If you ever watch a crime drama on television or maybe CourtTV, then you’ll quickly get the impression that most cases go to trial. That’s what they show the majority of the time happens when you tune in to one of these, after all.
The truth of the matter is that 90% of all criminal cases end in a plea deal. What that means is the defendant and prosecutors broker a deal sometime in between the arrest and trial. These deals often involve a defendant agreeing to plead guilty to at least one alleged offense in exchange for prosecutors making concessions.
If you’re facing criminal charges, then you may find it helpful to know why prosecutors offer plea deals and why defendants accept them. This knowledge may help me if prosecutors offer you one in your case.
Why do prosecutors offer plea deals?
There are many reasons why prosecutors offer plea deals. They often do so because:
- They want to minimize how many cases they must prepare for trial. They prefer to invest their time and resources into prosecuting more serious cases.
- There’s a lack of confidence in the strengths of their case. Prosecutors are more apt to offer a plea deal when they fear that they may lose at trial.
Prosecutors may include clauses in any plea agreement allowing them to rescind their offer if a defendant fails to uphold their end of the bargain, such as testifying against another defendant. While prosecutors and defendants may mutually agree to a plea deal, the judge has the final say.
Why defendants accept plea deals
Various factors motivate defendants to accept plea deals when prosecutors offer them. They do so to:
- Minimize their legal costs
- Reduce the uncertainty of the outcome of the trial
- To secure a reduction in their charges and the associated sentence
There are some instances in which defendants often plead guilty to some aspects of a crime to avoid convictions on other charges.
Is a plea deal right for you?
Only you can decide whether you want to take your chances at trial or get a more certain outcome with a plea deal. Know that not all plea deals are the same — and they are treated the same as a conviction on your criminal record. An experienced criminal defense attorney can aid you in assessing the strengths and weaknesses of your case so that you can decide whether a plea deal is right for you.