Most criminal cases in Virginia are resolved through a plea bargain. When deciding if entering into a plea bargain is in your best interests, you must weigh the pros and cons of agreeing to a plea agreement. Here are other considerations that you should also consider when making this very important decision in your life.
Five Things to Consider Before Accepting a Plea Bargain
You do not have to accept a plea deal. You should never agree to enter into one without first consulting with an experienced criminal defense lawyer. They can advise you on the strengths of your defenses and whether the prosecutor is offering you an agreement that is beneficial to you. Here are other considerations that you should think about:
- Court approval. The judge must approve any plea agreement. If they believe that the punishment is too lenient, they may accept your guilty plea but not the punishment you and the prosecutor agreed on. You may want to withdraw your plea in this situation.
- Jail or prison sentence. Depending on the crime you are agreeing to plead guilty to committing, you may be accepting a jail or prison sentence as part of the plea deal. You need to seriously consider how this could affect your life, job, and ability to support your family.
- Waiver of your rights. It is important to understand that you are waiving important rights, such as the right to have your case decided at trial and to appeal a conviction, by entering into a plea agreement. You should have your attorney explain the waivers to you because the judge will ask you whether you understand and voluntarily waive them when deciding whether to accept your plea bargain.
- Permanent criminal record. You will have a permanent criminal record if you plead guilty or no contest to a misdemeanor or felony. You should understand the long-term consequences this can have on your life, such as making it more difficult to obtain employment or housing.
- Civil liability. If you plead guilty to a crime, you could face civil liability for your actions if someone suffered injuries or property was damaged.
Are you facing criminal charges in the Virginia Beach or Norfolk area? Are you considering taking a plea deal? Call our Norfolk office or fill out our convenient online form to learn how our skilled criminal defense lawyers can mount an aggressive defense strategy and help you enter into a favorable plea agreement if this is in your best interests.