The pros and cons of accepting a plea deal

The pros and cons of accepting a plea deal

On Behalf of Wampler & Passanise

Someone in Missouri may want to consider accepting a plea deal from the prosecutor in a criminal case. Whether this deal is actually a bargain or could have more negative consequences than a trial depends on the case.

Here are some plea deal factors a person should evaluate, according to FindLaw.

Potential benefits

Skipping the uncertainty of a trial may be a good thing. When people have actually committed the offense and the evidence against them is strong, then accepting a bargain that would result in considerably fewer consequences may be their best move.

A plea deal also saves time. The person facing the charges does not have to wait (possibly in prison) while he or she moves slowly up the crowded court docket toward a trial.

Potential disadvantages

To get the deal, a person must plead guilty, and the result is a conviction on a criminal record that could have permanent repercussions in the form of collateral consequences. These are effects that do not begin until after the person has served the prison sentence and paid penalties, fees and restitution.

According to the American Bar Association, a conviction can result in sanctions or disqualifications that leave a person unable to get back on his or her feet after completing the sentence. These are not part of the court judgment, and the prosecutor does not have to mention them when offering the plea deal. Examples include the loss of a professional license, revoked driver’s license, inability to own a firearm, sex offender registration and ineligibility for public assistance. Roughly 45,000 collateral consequences exist across the United States.