Most criminal cases do not go to trial. They are resolved through plea bargains where the defendant pleads guilty in exchange for reduced charges or a lighter sentence. By pleading guilty or no contest, you will avoid a trial, and all the judge will have to do is sentence you.
While accepting a plea deal means avoiding the uncertainties of a trial, you must carefully weigh your decision. You give up some of your rights when you agree to a plea deal, such as your right to a trial or appeal, and it may not always be in your best interests. You will also end up with a criminal record after a guilty plea.
Consider all your options
Since every situation is different, the decision to reject or accept a plea deal depends entirely on the individual circumstances of your case. Remember, plea deals are voluntary, and you cannot be forced into one. You also have the right to a jury trial. You have the right to force the government to prove their case. You have the right to confront the governments witnesses and cross-examine them on the stand.
If the case against you is weak and you stand a chance of beating your charges at trial, it may not be advisable to accept the plea deal. However, if your case is pretty strong and the plea deal offers some favorable terms, you could be better off agreeing to a plea bargain. Courts have been known to impose a “trial tax,” which is a more severe sentence than normal when they feel that a defendant has “wasted” the court’s time and resources.
The vast majority of criminal cases are resolved through some kind of plea deal, but these aren’t negotiations you should try to handle on your own. Experienced legal guidance will make it much easier to make the right call and get the best possible outcome for your case.