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Criminal cases: 3 factors to remember about a plea deal

Most criminal cases don't ever make it to a jury trial because they are resolved with prosecutors. One of the common ways for this to happen is through a plea deal, which involves the prosecution and defense working together to come up with an arrangement to which both sides agree.

There are many reasons why plea deals are beneficial for both sides, but defendants should carefully consider the offer if one is presented. It is imperative that you think about how the deal might impact you now and in the future.

1. The terms of the agreement

A typical plea agreement will include several key elements. As a defendant, you will have to plead either guilty or no contest to a specific charge or set of charges.

It might be possible for you to have the charges reduced to lesser offenses that don't carry penalties as harsh as the ones that come with the original charge. In some cases, the deal that is worked out sets up a specific sentence or range of time spent in community corrections. It is possible to have more than one area covered in the plea deal, so the prosecution might offer a reduced charge with a specific sentence.

2. Benefits of a plea deal

One of the primary benefits of a plea deal is that the defendant doesn't have to wait for a trial date, and the trial won't clog the court docket. This means that other cases can make it through the courts a little faster. Additionally, defendants can have their cases over with faster so they can begin to rebuild their lives.

3. Reasons to reject a deal

There are a few reasons why a defendant might choose to reject a plea deal. The most obvious of these is that they aren't guilty. The judge will specifically ask you if you committed the crime at hand, so you can't enter into the deal if you contend that you didn't. Another reason to avoid a plea deal is if you don't fully agree with it. You can't appeal a plea deal later, so if you don't agree with it in its entirety, you shouldn't accept the deal.

As a defendant, you can discern whether a plea deal is right for you -- with the help of an experienced attorney. Make sure you think carefully about each aspect so you can make a choice based on your circumstances. You should consider all of your defense options before you make a decision.

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