If you are facing the possibility of a conviction for drug related crimes, you may wonder what your options are. You might have also heard the term “plea bargain” volleyed around before.
What are plea bargains? Are they useful in your situation? Do they have more benefits than drawbacks, or is it the other way around?
Benefits of plea bargains
Cornell Law School discusses the benefits and controversies surrounding plea bargains. Plea bargains essentially function as a deal between the prosecution and defense. In most cases, you admit to guilt over a crime. In exchange, the prosecution will usually lessen the charge severity or number of charges they pursue.
Plea bargains have many advantages and disadvantages. As far as advantages go, it saves all sides money. You do not have to push the case through a trial if the party on trial claims guilt, after all. This frees up court resources, too. Not only does it conserve limited resources, but it also opens up the possibility for a judge to “process out” offenders charged with lower level crimes. This helps with prison overcrowding.
If your legal expert believes there is a strong chance you will face conviction, it also helps you avoid more severe penalties.
Controversies surrounding plea bargains
On the other hand, if innocent, this admission of guilt could permanently mark your record for no reason. Though you may face a lighter sentence, this will feel unfair when you believe you should face no sentence at all.
Opponents of plea bargains also believe it is coercive. They think it pressures innocent people into admitting guilt in the hopes of avoiding the stress of a trial. However, U.S. courts ruled that plea bargains do not violate any amendment rights. Ultimately, you must decide whether the potential benefits are worth the drawbacks.