If you are facing criminal charges, the prosecutor may offer you a plea deal. This is an agreement where you plead guilty to a lesser charge or a reduced sentence in exchange for avoiding a trial. It is how a significant majority of criminal cases are dealt with.
However, before you accept a plea deal, it is essential to understand the full implications of your decision. That way, you will ensure you know what you are getting yourself into and what you may be giving up in exchange for the proposed agreement. Below are some Constitutional rights you relinquish when you accept a plea deal.
The right to a jury trial
A plea deal is meant to avoid a trial. It means that you will not have the opportunity to present your case to an impartial judge or jury to decide whether you are guilty.
The right to confront witnesses
You can only invoke your right to confront the witnesses against you during a trial. Therefore, you will not be able to challenge the credibility or reliability of the witness testimony that the prosecution has against you when you agree to a plea deal.
The right against self-incrimination
Pleading guilty or no-contest borders on self-incrimination since you are essentially testifying against yourself when you admit to a criminal offense. Under normal circumstances, you can refuse to answer questions, make potentially incriminating statements or testify at a trial.
Seek legal guidance to protect your interests
Accepting a plea deal is a serious decision that should not be taken lightly. As such, it is best to seek informed guidance for advice on your options and what you can do to increase your chances of achieving the best possible outcome for your case.