Did you know that 98% of criminal cases in federal courts are resolved through plea deals? It means you will likely get an offer to settle your criminal charges outside of trial.
The decision to accept or reject the deal is yours, so it helps to have a good understanding before making the call. Refusing a plea deal will likely result in a trial. On the other hand, accepting one involves giving up some of your rights provided in the Constitution.
The right to a jury trial
The Sixth Amendment guarantees everyone a right to an impartial jury. When you plead guilty, you waive this right and admit to breaking the law without a jury to determine your guilt or innocence.
The right to confront witnesses
The Sixth Amendment also guarantees the right to confront witnesses. In a plea bargain, the defendant often agrees to forgo this right and to accept the prosecution’s evidence without cross-examination.
The right against self-incrimination
The Fifth Amendment protects you from self-incrimination. However, you cannot invoke this right when you accept a plea deal. You will have to incriminate yourself by admitting that you committed a crime.
The right to remain silent
Your right to remain silent is also enshrined in the Fifth Amendment. When you accept a plea bargain, you no longer have this right. You must generally respond to questions related to the offense the plea deal involved, depending on the terms of your plea deal.
Should you accept a plea deal or take your chances at a trial? The answer to that depends on the prevailing facts, such as the prosecution’s evidence against you and the strength of your case. It is best to seek legal counsel as soon as possible if you are facing criminal charges for guidance when making such crucial decisions.