Plea Deal

Facing criminal charges can be one of the most difficult and stressful experiences in a person’s life, with far-reaching consequences that extend beyond the potential for fines or imprisonment. As a defendant, understanding all aspects of the process, including the possibility of plea deals and how they work, is critical in making informed decisions about your future.

What is a Plea Deal?

What is a Plea Deal?

A plea deal, also known as a plea bargain or plea agreement, occurs in a criminal case when the defendant pleads guilty in exchange for a reduction of penalties or for dropping certain charges. This negotiation bypasses a trial and leads to a quicker resolution of the case – one with potentially less severe penalties than if found guilty at trial.

What Are the Benefits of a Plea Deal For the Defendant?

Plea deals can offer defendants significant benefits as they navigate the criminal justice system, most often including: 

Charge and Sentencing Reductions

One of the primary benefits is the possibility of less severe charges or penalties. Prosecutors may reduce a charge to a lesser offense with milder penalties – for example, being charged with a felony and being permitted to plead guilty to a misdemeanor

Alternatively, they may keep the charge the same but agree to a lighter sentence than would normally be handed out after a defendant is found guilty at trial. 

Quicker Case Resolution

Plea bargains expedite the legal process, allowing for a quicker resolution. This can substantially cut down attorney’s fees as well as time you have to spend going back and forth to court.

Reduced Uncertainty 

Going to trial inherently carries risk and unpredictability. With plea negotiations, you retain some level of control over the outcome. There’s no gambling on how a jury might perceive your case, as everything is set up and agreed to.

Immigration Benefits

In certain circumstances, a plea deal can be structured to avoid deportation for non-citizens, as some convictions can have severe immigration consequences. By carefully negotiating the terms of a plea, you can prevent triggering these adverse effects.

Emotional Relief

By avoiding a trial and its extensive preparation process, defendants might experience emotional relief. A plea deal provides closure more quickly without the stress that comes from waiting for the trial to take place.

Sooner Release From Jail

Interestingly, pleading guilty through a plea agreement can sometimes result in quicker release from jail compared to maintaining innocence and awaiting trial. This is because deals often include credit for time served or the imposition of probation instead of waiting in jail for the trial to take place. 

A plea deal can be a beneficial approach in many cases, potentially securing several practical advantages over a costly and unpredictable trial. 

The Potential Downside of Plea Deals

While plea deals offer many potential benefits, they also carry inherent disadvantages that could negatively impact defendants, including:

Innocent People Pleading Guilty

One significant issue is the pressure innocent individuals may feel to plead guilty simply to avoid harsher punishment, which could accompany a guilty verdict at trial.

Over-Reliance on Plea Bargaining

The criminal justice system’s heavy reliance on plea bargaining to resolve the majority of its cases raises concerns about defendants getting true fair trials. Sometimes, plea offers are based more on expediency rather than a full examination of the facts, leading to defendants making decisions that maybe they shouldn’t make.

Limited Recourse After Pleading Guilty

Once a plea deal is accepted and you’re given a sentencing hearing, your ability to appeal shrinks. Generally, individuals who plead guilty understand they are waiving many of their appellate rights. This makes it challenging to withdraw the plea or later contest the legality of a procedure or piece of evidence if new information comes to light.

Given the complexities and potentially severe consequences of accepting plea deals, consulting an experienced Rhode Island criminal defense attorney is essential. 

How a Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help With a Plea Deal

One of the most important parts of plea deals is working with your criminal defense lawyer to get the best outcome. Here are some of the main steps they will take to help make this happen:

Investigating and Evaluating the Evidence

Your attorney will evaluate the strength of evidence against you, which influences your negotiating position when dealing with prosecuting attorneys. This ensures that your agreement is based on thorough research and understanding of the charges’ factual basis.

Advising Clients on Proactive Steps 

Defense attorneys often recommend that clients take proactive measures to improve their standing with prosecutors or judges. For example, in drug-related cases, entering addiction treatment programs ahead of plea discussions could highlight your willingness to better yourself, impacting plea offers and case outcomes favorably.

Presenting Mitigating Circumstances 

The defense lawyer will present mitigating factors and evidence to persuade the prosecutor during plea negotiations. This is done to offer context surrounding the incident in question and character references to show why the defendant is deserving of a favorable deal. 

Advising Clients on Plea Deals

Your defense lawyer will provide detailed advice about the offer’s terms and the implications of accepting the deal. They will help you weigh your options so you can make an informed decision. 

Our Providence Criminal Defense Attorneys Can Help You Understand the Pros and Cons of a Plea Deal

Plea negotiations are a complex yet integral part of navigating the criminal justice system and should always be done with the help of a lawyer. Contact us today at (401) 854-7794 to schedule a free consultation with a Providence criminal defense lawyer at Manosh Payette Criminal Defense Attorneys.