When a person faces charges for alleged criminal activity in New York, they are frequently offered the option of a plea bargain. Most will have a vague notion of what a plea bargain is from watching television or the news. However, it is not always as simple as it is portrayed and the long-term consequences might not be worth it.
People who are confronted with criminal charges for any reason need to be aware of the positives and negatives of a plea bargain before simply accepting the offer. It is important to have professional advice from the start of the case.
Understanding plea bargaining in New York
As a criminal case winds its way through the legal system, the prosecutor might see an avenue to give the person an offer of a plea bargain. It can happen at any time during the case. Whether one is offered or not may depend on the severity of the allegations, if the person has a prior record and other factors.
In some cases, a conviction could result in a person spending years incarcerated and being heavily fined. Being offered a deal that gives them less jail time or no jail time at all may be a preferable alternative. They might need to take part in a program or get probation. It can be a gamble to go to trial as different juries and judges can react in various ways to a case. If the evidence is lacking or the crime is not serious, it might be better to take a chance and try to get an acquittal.
There are secondary consequences to a plea bargain that should be known beforehand. It can hinder a person’s educational opportunities, prevent them from getting a professional license, have immigration consequences, leave them without the right to vote, keep them out of the military, and leave them ineligible for certain jobs and more.
Having experienced representation can help to assess offers and decide
Regardless of whether the person has a criminal record or has never been in any type of trouble before, there are points to remember about criminal defense. For example, if it is a college student who has been charged with drug-related infractions or driving under the influence, a plea bargain might keep them out of jail.
Still, depending on the offer, they might be confronted with other challenges because of the plea bargain such as losing access to financial aid. This must be weighed before taking the deal, trying to get a better offer or going to trial. For help from the start, it is imperative to discuss the case with experienced and qualified professionals.