When you’re charged with a drug crime, the prosecution is probably going to initially threaten you with the harshest penalties allowed under the law. And some of those penalties are quite extensive. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be facing jail or prison time, large fines, and a lingering criminal history that will haunt you as you seek to maintain or secure employment and housing.
As stressful as that can be, most cases end up resolving in some fashion with penalties that are a lot lighter than initially indicated. That’s not to say that they aren’t serious. You may still be facing jail time and a significant criminal record, but it may not be as severe as first thought. To try to achieve this outcome, the prosecution is going to use a plea bargain as a tool to try to convince you to admit that you committed the crime in question, which thereby allows them to obtain a conviction.
Should you accept a plea deal?
Before you accept some sort of plea deal, you have to carefully consider whether doing so is truly in your best interests. Here are some things to think about as you analyze your situation:
- How strong is the prosecution’s evidence? This is where you should start. Once you know the strength of the prosecution’s case, you’ll have a better sense of how likely you are to succeed at trial. Make sure you’re being diligent in conducting this analysis so that you have an accurate picture of the evidence that’ll be presented against you if you take your case to court.
- Can you suppress any evidence? Even when the evidence clearly points to your guilt, you may be able to block the prosecution from using that evidence against you, which could lead to an acquittal. You may be able to do this by requesting that certain evidence be suppressed due to being illegally obtained or being unreliable. If you can suppress evidence, you may have a better shot at achieving a favorable outcome by taking your case to trial and not accepting a plea deal.
- What’s at stake? You should analyze an offered plea deal in light of the penalties that may be imposed upon you if you take your case to trial and lose. If there isn’t much difference between the two, you have very little to lose by litigating your case. If the plea deal allows you to escape many significant penalties, then you might want to give the plea deal more consideration.
- What does the plea deal mean for your future? Outside of the penalties that will be dealt to you, you also need to consider how the particular type of conviction you’re facing will affect your future. For example, a felony conviction is going to cause you a lot more problems later on than a misdemeanor conviction. So, before taking a plea deal, consider whether the state is offering you something that will be more beneficial to you in the long run. Also, consider the wider ramifications such as how your friends and family will react to your admission of guilt.
Protecting your interests throughout your criminal case
An improperly handled criminal case can leave you facing more severe ramifications than you ever imagined. Although a plea deal might seem like a way out of it all, you need to make sure that you’re making the decisions about your case that are right for you. If you want to protect yourself as much as possible throughout the proceedings, you may want to consider discussing your circumstances with an attorney who will be able to help you navigate the criminal defense strategy that provides you with the best protection.