Keeping An Eye On Plea Bargains: They Can Be Good But Aren't Always The Best Choice

Being arrested for drug crimes is serious business. Never assume that your innocence will be obvious and you'll be let go; chances are you'll face a long legal battle even if you know you're not guilty. And if the evidence seems to point to you, or if you're obviously guilty, you are in trouble. People facing difficult court cases are often offered plea bargains. For those involved in or accused of drug crimes, plea bargains can be a simple solution—but you must have an attorney represent you.

What Does Your Defense Look Like?

How strong is your case? If you have solid proof that the drugs were planted, for example, a plea bargain might not be the best choice. But if you have no case, or maybe a shaky case built around a technicality, then a plea bargain might be better. You must speak with your attorney about this because something that seems obviously good to you might not be so good in court terms.

What Sentence Are You Truly Facing?

One of the attractions of plea bargains is that they tend to involve lesser charges, lesser sentences, and even, sometimes, vastly better circumstances that keep you out of prison. Compare what the plea bargain is offering with what you'd truly face. If you're facing, on paper, 10 years for selling drugs, for example, but even the prosecution admits that you're more likely to get two years and then a chance at parole, why take a plea bargain under which you'd serve four years? It may seem better than 10, but it's definitely worse than two.

What Consequences Would You Face?

You'll also need to look at what you would face once any sentence from the plea bargain is complete. If the plea bargain has you jailed for a felony, just on a lesser charge, would that felony follow you for the rest of your life? Would there be an avenue after the plea bargain for you to have the felony erased from your record? If you weren't imprisoned as part of the plea bargain, how would the record affect your ability to work later on? You've got to be sure that taking the plea bargain won't affect your post-court life any more than a regular sentence would. Often, these plea bargains do not have worse effects, but again, if you have a strong defense, it wouldn't make sense to take the plea bargain.

You and your attorney will need to discuss all aspects of your case and plea bargain offer to decide on the best route. This is why it's vital to have an attorney willing to fight for you.

Contact a law firm like Epstein & Robbins for more information.