The vast majority of criminal cases never make it trial even though many of them qualify for a jury trial. This is due to plea deals being reached before the case ever makes it to trial. These agreements are made between the prosecutor and defendant.
While plea deals do have some very important benefits for all parties involved, they aren't without opposition. For the men and women who are dealing with the plea bargain process, looking at both the benefits and the drawbacks is imperative.
Implications of the plea
When you enter into a plea bargain, you are agreeing to either plead guilty or no contest to the charges. This means that you will have a criminal conviction on your record. Generally, you can't appeal a plea deal, so don't think that you might be able to reverse it later if you realize you aren't happy with it.
Because of how you will have to plead in these cases, you need to remember that plea deals are only appropriate if you are ready to admit that you did commit the crime. If you are innocent, you shouldn't entertain the possibility of a plea bargain.
The risk of innocent people pleading guilty to crimes they didn't commit is one of the drawbacks that accompanies these deals. Opponents worry about the fact that someone might accept a plea deal just so they don't have to face the uncertainty of trial.
A need for control
The desire to control the outcome of the case is one of the biggest reasons why plea deals work. The prosecution wants to ensure that they get a conviction on a case. The defendant wants to know the penalty that he or she is going to face. The court appreciates the fact that the docket is lessened since plea deals free up time for other trials.
One concern that opponents have with these deals is that the defendant might get a sentence that is perceived as being too light for the crime. They worry about victims' rights and how the plea deal will affect those. Often, prosecutors address this by allowing the victim to participate to a limited extent in the plea deal negotiations.
With the overcrowded criminal justice system in northern Illinois, it is easy to see how plea deals can benefit everyone involved. If you are the defendant who is facing the charges, think carefully about the deals being offered to you and how they will affect you long-term.