Pros & Cons of Taking a Plea Bargain in Your Criminal Case


There are a couple of different pros and cons of a plea bargain. For example, accepting a plea deal allows you to take control of the possible outcome of your case. Additionally, you may spare yourself from having to endure a trial that puts private matters in a public forum. That said, pleading guilty guarantees you have a conviction on your record. 

The legal team at Martin & Reed, LLC, has extensive experience helping the accused navigate the plea bargaining process. Our Colorado criminal defense lawyers understand what you and your loved ones might be going through as you try to manage the stress of having charges hanging over your head. We stand ready to review your case and see how we can help you move forward in a way that protects your rights. 

What Is a Plea Deal?

A plea deal is an arrangement between the defense and the prosecution. In the agreement, the accused agrees to plead a certain way in exchange for the government doing or not doing something. For example, the accused might plead guilty to a charge, and the state’s attorney may ask to dismiss a different charge. 

The judge can’t be part of the plea negotiations. That said, the parties need to get the judge’s approval of whatever terms they agree to. Additionally, in most circumstances, the government can’t discuss plea deals with the defendant directly. Instead, they would have these talks with the defendant’s attorney. 

What Are Examples of What a Plea Agreement Might Be About?

As explained in the Colorado Code of Criminal Procedure, the defense and prosecution can structure the plea agreement in many different ways. For example, the person accused of a crime may plead guilty to one of the charges against them. In return, the prosecution may dismiss one or more of the other charges against them. 

Additionally, the plea agreement may be a way for the accused to negotiate a better sentence. For example, they may plead guilty to one of the charges in exchange for the district attorney asking for less jail time than they might have otherwise. 

Why Accept a Plea Deal?

Accepting a plea deal may be in the accused’s best interests in a number of situations. Negotiating the terms of their criminal case puts them in more control of the potential outcome. For example, by pleading guilty to a lesser offense, they may be able to avoid the uncertainty of going through a trial on a more serious crime. As part of this, they may be able to negotiate the exact sentencing range the prosecution will ask for. Without a plea agreement, the person may have had to worry about the state asking for the maximum sentence. 

What Are the Potential Benefits and Drawbacks of a Plea Bargain?

When thinking about participating in plea discussions or accepting a particular offer from the state, there are a number of potential advantages and disadvantages to keep in mind. Some factors to consider are the ability to avoid having a trial, negotiate your sentence, and reduce the charges against you. The drawback of a plea deal, of course, is that you’ll receive a conviction because you’re pleading guilty to a crime. 

When you are facing a crime, it’s essential for you to get proactive and accurate legal help from the start. Working with a Colorado criminal defense attorney gives you the benefit of having a steadfast advocate with a wealth of experience to put to work for you. They can review the evidence and arguments against you and advise you on what a fair plea deal might look like.  

Avoiding Trial

One potential benefit of accepting a plea deal is avoiding a trial altogether. By pleading guilty, you can bypass the stress of having witnesses testify against you. Likewise, you can avoid the uncertainty of what the outcome might be if you were to leave it up to a judge or jury. 

Negotiated Sentences

Being able to negotiate the sentence you receive can be a blessing, especially if you are facing a serious crime like assault. Instead of having to wonder what sentence the government is going to suggest to the judge, you can try to work this out ahead of time. This can help you plan out your next steps and make necessary preparations, like giving your job or landlord due notice. 

Criminal Conviction

The disadvantage of accepting a plea deal is, of course, that it ensures you receive a conviction on your record. Depending on the type of offense it is, you may face other consequences, such as losing your license. Additionally, having a conviction on your record may mean that charges you may pick up in the future are upgraded to a more serious offense. 

Reduced Charges

While pleading guilty may put a conviction on your record, working with the government in a plea deal may mean the charge you get is less severe than it would be if you had contested the accusations. In other words, the government may reduce the charges against you in exchange for you pleading guilty. 

When Might Pleading Guilty Make Sense?

Depending on your circumstances, pleading guilty to a crime may make sense. If the government is willing to drastically reduce the charges against you, submitting a guilty plea might be in your best interest. Instead of possibly facing a lengthy sentence for, say, a felony DUI, you may get a reckless driving charge. Pleading guilty may also be the right decision for you if you would like more certainty about the sentence you may face or what you are convicted of. Likewise, you may want to avoid a public trial and the possible stress and embarrassment you might feel from having these charges aired in an open forum. 

How To Negotiate a Favorable Plea Deal?

Because a plea deal involves you saying you are guilty of a crime, it’s important to have a careful plan for negotiating this arrangement. For example, you might want to thoroughly read through any documents you receive from the prosecution about the plea deal. If you don’t understand some of the terms, make sure to ask your lawyer about these. 

Before you make a final decision about accepting or rejecting an offer from the government, be sure that you understand how either option might impact you. For example, be clear about how a conviction might affect your current job standing or your ability to get a job in the future. 

Martin & Reed, LLC: We Can Help You Negotiate a Fair Plea Deal

Facing serious criminal charges can add significant stress and uncertainty to your life. Entering into a plea agreement with the government can relieve some of the sense of overwhelm you may experience; however, these agreements also carry risks. Before you make a final decision about whether to accept a plea deal from the state’s attorney, talk to a seasoned lawyer who you can trust. 

Martin & Reed, LLC, fiercely defends the rights of those who are accused of crimes ranging from minor traffic charges to aggravated assault and homicide. We understand what’s at stake and can help explain the pros and cons of accepting a plea bargain in your situation. Call our team today at (970) 539-9377 to schedule a no-obligation consultation to discuss your legal needs.