If you are facing criminal charges, you may be tempted to accept a plea bargain offered by the prosecution. A plea bargain is an agreement in which you plead guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for avoiding a trial and the possibility of a harsher outcome.
Plea bargains are common in the criminal justice system, as they can save both sides time, money and resources. However, before you accept a plea bargain, you should be aware of the rights you are giving up, as explained below.
The right to a trial
You have the right to a speedy and public trial. However, accepting a plea means there will be no trial, and you will not have a chance to present your defense.
The right to question witnesses
During a trial, you have the right to confront and cross-examine the prosecution’s witnesses. When you take a plea deal, you give up this right and cannot question the witnesses lined up against you.
The right against self-incrimination
Under normal circumstances, you can refuse to answer questions if the answer would incriminate you. However, you waive this right when you take a plea deal as it involves admitting to committing a criminal offense.
The right to appeal
In most cases, you waive the right to challenge the sentence handed to you if you take a plea deal. While it depends on the specifics of your plea bargain, you may have to settle with the sentence you get.
Beyond waiving these important rights, there may be other unintended consequences of accepting a plea deal, such as losing your civil rights or limiting your future employment opportunities. Therefore, it’s best to seek legal guidance to understand your options and protect your interests before you make such a crucial decision.