Once you have been charged in a criminal case, you will have to decide how you are going to plead to those charges. Many defendants opt to plead not guilty instead of guilty at the start of the case. This sets the wheels in motion for the case to head toward a trial.

Many criminal cases never make it to trial. Instead, they are resolved prior to the trial through a plea bargain. This possibility has many benefits for the defendant and the prosecution, but it isn’t without some controversy. Anyone who is facing criminal charges should explore how plea deals might help them or hurt them.

Your plea

You should remember that if you are accepting a plea deal, you are going to either have to plead no contest or guilty. These mean that you will be convicted of the crime and will have a criminal record. A no contest plea means that you aren’t admitting guilt but that you do agree that the case against you is strong enough to end in a conviction. Pleading guilty means that you are saying you did commit the crime.

Resolution speed

Typically, you can have your case resolved faster if you are accepting a plea deal. This is preferable for some people since they know they won’t have to deal with the case any longer. You can’t let this consume your thoughts, however, because you need to remember that you will still have consequences to deal with after the sentence is handed down. You might be able to prepare for those a bit better since you will know what they are ahead of time.

Limited control

A plea deal will give you limited control over the outcome of your case. You won’t be able to control everything, but you might be able to work out a deal that includes lesser charges than you were originally facing. You might also be able to have a predetermined sentence in place when you enter the plea into court. Of course, all of this hinges on the court accepting the plea deal as it was agreed upon by your side and the prosecution.

Some people don’t believe that plea deals should be part of the criminal justice system. They think that some innocent people plead guilty just to have the case over with. They also feel that guilty parties might face sentences that aren’t severe enough for the crime. Still, these deals are important because they help to clear cases out, which can save everyone involved time and money.