Should You Plea Bargain Your New York Criminal Case?
Most cases in New York aren’t resolved through the trial process. They’re resolved through plea bargains.
A plea bargain is a kind of settlement between you and the prosecutor. You agree to plead guilty to something. In return, the prosecutor agrees to reduce the charges to something less severe.
Plea bargains may also include an option for shorter jail sentences, either because the lesser crime requires a shorter sentence or because the prosecution credits you for “time served.” In some misdemeanor cases, a plea bargain can mean taking a misdemeanor charge down to a civil infraction.
Plea bargains resolve your case quickly and cheaply, and reduce the risk and uncertainty of a trial. That uncertainty is made all the more dangerous by the fact that many judges and prosecutors seek the harshest sentences they can get any time someone exercises their constitutional right to a trial. It’s not fair, and it’s arguably not right, but it’s something that every defendant must take into account while working with their lawyer to resolve their case.
In some cases, you might get the offer of a deferred prosecution agreement instead. In these agreements, you agree to abide by certain rules or restrictions for a certain period of time. In return, you don’t get prosecuted, you don’t get a criminal record, and you don’t go to jail, as long as you don’t violate the terms of the agreement. This may be possible for non-violent or first time offenders. Terms may include community service, staying away from certain locations or substances, or gaining new restrictions on whether you can hold a driver’s license, to name a few common examples.
Plea bargains offer many disadvantages. The most important disadvantage is that you’ll be admitting guilt. That means you’ll have a criminal charge on your record no matter what. You may still end up in jail, even if you spend less time there than you otherwise would.
Thus, you should always consult closely with your defense attorney before making the decision. Trials are a risk, and risk assessment is part of any good criminal defense attorney’s job. We can help you evaluate the strength of the prosecution’s case and determine what your odds of winning are. We can also help you negotiate the best possible deal.
There are no guarantees. You and your attorney can only work together to come up with a plan that fits the facts of the case. A good lawyer can simply increase your chances of producing a better outcome for your case.
Are you in trouble? Don’t face criminal charges without help from an experienced defense attorney. Contact Scott Russell Law today to get started.