In some criminal cases, the prosecution offers defendants a way to reduce the charges they face. This is called plea bargaining, and many defendants choose this as a way to minimize their sentences. Criminal defense attorneys may or may not encourage their clients to accept a plea bargain, but ultimately, it is up to the defendant.
One of the top reasons defendants may accept a deal is because it takes away the uncertainty that comes with a trial. For example, say you are facing serious charges involving a violent crime. The prosecution may offer to reduce your charges if you agree to plead guilty to a lesser charge. This means you will not go to trial, and you will know in advance what penalties you will face.
Other possible advantages of plea bargaining include the following.
- You can avoid worsening your situation if the prosecution has strong evidence against you.
- You will likely acquire a much more lenient sentence through plea bargaining.
- A plea deal can work for you if your criminal defense lawyer believes the prosecution has the best chances of winning a trial.
As stated in the beginning, accepting a plea deal is and should be your choice. However, your criminal defense attorney can fill an important role in your decision by informing you about the progress of your case and about your odds of winning.
One thing all defendants in Massachusetts should understand is that they have a constitutional right to a trial before a jury of their peers. Accepting a plea bargain means you are giving up this right. Your lawyer can offer you guidance when making important decisions like these.