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Detroit Legal Blog

What You Need to Know Before Accepting a Plea Bargain

May 20, 2019, by Maurice Davis in Criminal Defense, Legal Blog
defendant considering a plea bargain

In the United States, most criminal cases are resolved through a plea bargain. This means that the defendant chooses not to go to trial, and instead pleads guilty to the offense. There are many reasons why people choose a plea bargain instead of fighting their criminal charges – but not all of them are good reasons. Often times, the prosecutor pressures the defendant into pleading guilty by telling them there is no chance to win at trail and that their sentence will be much harsher if they go to trial and lose. Without the counsel of a criminal defense lawyer, the defendant often buckles to this pressure and agrees to plead guilty – even if there are potential defenses to the charges.

Accepting a plea deal before consulting with a criminal defense lawyer is generally a mistake. Only someone who has your best interests in mind and significant experience of the criminal justice system can make the right call in these cases. Do not believe what the prosecutor tells you, because their job is to get a conviction, and it’s always in their best interest to do so without going through a trial. If you’ve been charged with a crime, call the Davis Law Group today at (313) 818-3238 for a free consultation about your situation.

A Plea Bargain Is for Making the Best Out of a the Worst Case Scenario

We generally advise our clients to plead guilty only if they stand little chance of having their case dismissed during the pretrial hearings, or of obtaining an acquittal at trial. In other words, it’s a last resort when no other defense strategy will result in a good case outcome. And even then, we don’t blindly accept the prosecutor’s first offer. We negotiate fiercely on our client’s behalf to ensure that they are getting the best plea deal possible under the circumstances.

Accepting a plea deal is a last resort because the many consequences of a criminal conviction can affect your life in surprising ways. The prosecutor generally offers the guarantee of a lenient sentence, and in some cases, a conviction for a less serious offense, but criminal penalties are just one of many consequences of a criminal conviction. Sure, you could get off with a light sentence, but you will still need to contend with the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction, which can be just as devastating:

  • Permanent criminal record–A criminal conviction often stays with you for life, presenting a significant barrier to getting a job and housing. Only a relatively small number of criminal offenses are eligible for sealing or expungement. Your lawyer can tell you if your conviction can possibly be removed from your record after you accept a plea deal.
  • Loss of second amendment rights–If you plead guilty to a felony or a misdemeanor domestic violence offense, you will lose your right to own a firearm under federal law. Michigan law does offer a pathway to the restoration of your gun rights, but under federal law, you will never again be allowed to own or even handle a firearm.
  • Civil liability–If you plead guilty to a crime, then you are admitting that you are responsible for the consequences of your actions. If your offense caused harm to other people, they can use your guilty plea as evidence of your civil liability towards them. For example, if you plead guilty to assault and battery, the person that you injured may sue you to get compensation for their medical expenses and pain and suffering. The victim may introduce your guilty plea at trial to establish your liability.
  • Sex offender registration–A conviction for a Michigan sex offense could mean that you’ll have to register as a sex offender. For serious offenses, this is a lifelong requirement. Not only is it expensive and troublesome to regularly register with the authorities, your sex offender status will make finding a job, maintaining your relationships, and holding down a stable living situation extremely difficult.

Depending on the specific offense you have been charged with and your personal circumstances, accepting a plea deal could be your best option–or it could be the worst case scenario. Don’t expect the prosecutor to honestly tell you which situation you’re in, because they will always encourage you to accept a deal. The best thing you can do is call an experienced defense lawyer for advice.

Talk to a Detroit Criminal Defense Lawyer Before Pleading Guilty

After you’ve been arrested, you may feel scared and helpless. The police and the prosecutor know you are vulnerable and will attempt to persuade you to admit to the crime. Fortunately, the United States Constitution guarantees your right to remain silent and to ask for the assistance of a lawyer. Invoking these rights is the best thing you can do towards giving your case a positive resolution. Let us take care of the rest. Call Davis Law Group today at (313) 818-3238 for your free and confidential consultation.