A plea bargain is an arrangement between the defendant and the prosecutor that enables the defendant to plead guilty to a less serious charge to avoid jail time or for a lesser sentence. For many people accused of drug trafficking crimes, a plea bargain might be the best course of action, as it can potentially prevent jail time. However, this is not always the case. Here are some things to know about plea bargains in drug trafficking cases.
Is a Plea Bargain Good or Bad?
It can be difficult to generalize whether all plea bargains are good or bad. If prosecutors have a lot of evidence against you and they offer a plea bargain that would eliminate jail time or reduce potential sentences, it would be a good deal for you to accept a plea bargain. There’s a risk in going to trial that the jury would convict you on more significant charges.
It is also possible that the terms of a specific plea bargain are bad for the defendant. For instance, the prosecution team might have only circumstantial evidence and the defendant could be found not guilty in a trial. For this reason, the prosecutors might offer a plea bargain to have you accept a guilty verdict and avoid a loss in court.
There is no way to one hundred percent predict the outcome of a criminal trial. However, by discussing the specifics of your case with a criminal defense attorney, you can get a better idea of your chances. They can give you advice based on their experience and knowledge of local laws and judges.
If you’re still interested in accepting a plea deal, your attorney might be able to work out better terms with the prosecution’s office. This negotiation process can sometimes make the difference between having jail time and not.
Avoid a Public Trial
For high-profile members of the community or people with families, the publicity and attention associated with a public trial could have other ramifications. If you own a business, a public trial could impair its reputation. Your family could face negative attention as a result of the public nature of your case, whether or not you get convicted. Accepting a plea bargain often means that you won’t have to go through a trial or public scrutiny .
Plus, going to trial is expensive. There are courtroom expenses, lawyer fees, and other costs associated with trials. Some defendants will accept a plea bargain to avoid having to testify in court or a public-facing trial. It also saves the court system time and money when lesser charges can be settled without court trial.
When you go to trial, anything can happen. It’s possible you could end up with more serious felony charges and longer jail sentences. Or you could walk away without any charges. Accepting a plea bargain means knowing what the outcome is. You aren’t gambling with getting convicted of more serious charges or getting a longer sentence than expected.
Some defendants are okay with this gamble of not knowing the outcome. Your criminal defense attorney can advise you on whether you have a real chance of facing conviction through the court process or of winning an acquittal. While not a guarantee, lawyers have experience in these kinds of cases and can give you an educated guess.
Your Right to a Trial
The United States Constitution protects your right to have a fair and impartial trial. It doesn’t matter what the offense is. This includes drug trafficking cases. A large portion of both state and federal drug crimes end in a plea deal. While this is the right move for some defendants, it does mean that you won’t get your day in court. This can be a negative for certain crimes and defendants.
Some legal scholars argue that the increased prevalence and reliance on plea bargains put prosecutors in charge of sentencing and the trial process. This makes it unfair and partial. If presented a plea bargain, you might even feel coerced into accepting a plea bargain for fear of the trial system in the U.S. It is likely that innocent people accept plea bargains because they do not believe that they would have a fair trial and would face more jail time for a crime they didn’t commit.
Contact Criminal Defense Attorneys in Savannah Today
If you or a loved one has been charged in a drug related case in Savannah, Georgia, you should seek quality legal advice. You can contact one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys to discuss the specifics of your case.