It's estimated that over 90% of all criminal cases never go to trial. The defendant simply pleads guilty rather than taking their chances in front of a jury… and who can blame them? A conviction often has life changing consequences for the accused.
By taking a plea bargain, you can minimize the negative impact this case will have both on your present and your future. A misdemeanor will look far less damning on your record than a felony, for instance. But is this outcome good enough, or should you insist on going to trial?
Regardless of what charges you're up against, there are many experienced criminal defense attorneys in Lincoln, IL, who can advise you on how to proceed. Most will review your case for free before signing a contract, so you'll have a basic idea of your situation.
Understanding Plea Bargains
The first thing you should know is that only the defendant has the right to decide whether or not to accept the prosecution's offer. No matter how strongly your lawyer recommends an option, it is still up to you. Of course, given what's at stake, very few clients would actually disregard the input of their attorney.
Your lawyer will explain the details of the case to you so that you can make an informed decision. While every case is different, these three factors are arguably the most important ones to consider.
1. The prosecution's strength – How strong is the prosecution's case against you? If the evidence is overwhelming, then you might be better off taking whatever deal you can get.
2. Details of the plea bargain – Is pleading right now in your best interests? Would you perhaps be able to get a better deal if you wait before accepting? Even if you're willing to accept, your attorney may be able to negotiate for something better.
3. The risks of going to trial – Should the worst case happen, what kind of impact would a guilty verdict have on your life? There are times when the risks aren't actually that huge; first offenders, for instance, almost never get maximum sentences.
This isn't a choice you should rush. Make sure you have a thorough understanding of every alternative and its consequences before deciding.