What Is a Plea Bargain, and Should You Accept One?
The prosecutor or your lawyer tells you that you could make a plea bargain with the state in your criminal case. But you are not sure what a plea bargain is or how it will affect the charges against you. Before you accept a plea bargain, make sure you learn about what you can expect.
What Is a Plea Bargain?
A plea bargain is a negotiated deal with the prosecutor or district attorney to reduce or change the charges in your criminal case. In exchange, you agree to plead guilty or “no contest” to the reduced charges and do your time.
For example, the district attorney could offer to change your driving under the influence of alcohol charge to a less severe reckless driving charge. You will have to agree to plead guilty to reckless driving, accept the sentence you receive, and complete all the terms of your sentence. But you also will not have a DUI on your criminal record.
How Do You Get a Plea Bargain?
Often, people receive plea bargains because their lawyers negotiate with the district attorneys in charge of their cases. Lawyers look for weaknesses in the prosecution’s case to use as bargaining chips towards a plea deal. For example, a lawyer could point out to the prosecutor that the breathalyzer test and field sobriety tests were administered incorrectly by the arresting police officer. The prosecutor would most likely recognize that the lawyer could raise a strong defense at trial to a DUI charge and offer a plea bargain instead. This saves the prosecutor from potentially losing the case at trial.
Should You Accept the Bargain?
If you get offered a plea bargain, you need to consider it very carefully before you decide whether to accept. Make sure you understand exactly what the consequences are of taking the deal. The questions you will want to ask include:
- How much jail time will you serve?
- Which fines and costs will you have to pay?
- Will this go on your criminal record?
- Is there any room to negotiate a better deal?
- What happens next if you don’t take the deal?
Talk to a lawyer experienced with criminal cases in your area to learn more.
Looking to strike a plea bargain for your DUI charge? Clint Patterson, Esq., of Patterson Law Firm, a former Tulsa prosecutor now using his trial experience and expert-level knowledge of DUI science to defend drivers, assesses his clients’ best options for defenses and sentencing. To schedule a case evaluation, visit Patterson Law Firm online or call Clint’s office at (918) 550-9175.