You were arrested, bonded out and now face going to trial on criminal charges. At some point in the court proceedings, you may be approached by your criminal defense attorney to “cop a plea.” Is it in your best interests to do so?
It might be, but that is never a given, and it all depends on the charges you face and the strength of the prosecution’s case against you. Let’s look at the arguments for and against accepting a plea bargain.
You may want to take the plea if:
- You are guilty. While a defendant’s guilt is never a pre-determined reason to cop a plea, sometimes bringing resolution to a case is the best option available.
- The evidence against you is strong. If you’re caught on videotape, for instance, this might be a good choice.
- The prosecutor agreed not to seek jail time. If you have a job and a family, accepting a plea bargain can allow you to remain living at home and working to support your family.
Don’t be afraid to turn it down if:
- You didn’t do it. While there can be good reasons to accept a plea bargain if you aren’t guilty, it counts as a conviction and can permanently alter your life.
- Your attorney is overburdened and pressuring you. This is typically seen with public defenders with huge caseloads, but an unscrupulous private attorney may also pressure clients to plead out.
- The state has a weak case. There can be numerous reasons for a prosecutor to suggest a plea, but the primary factor is that their evidence is scant.
In the end, only you can determine whether a plea bargain is the right choice. Consulting a Minneapolis criminal defense attorney can clarify your options and provide you with guidance to make the right choice.