When you’re charged with a criminal offense, you hope is that you can beat the prosecution one way or another, thereby escaping conviction and the harsh penalties that often accompany it. But in many criminal cases, the evidence against the defendant is significant, making it difficult to find ways to effectively avoid conviction. That said, not all hope is lost.
Before your case heads to trial, you’ll have the opportunity to negotiate a plea deal. That might not sound like a great option, as it will likely require you to plead guilty to something, it can be an effective way to minimize the penalties that you’ll face, which in turn can dampen your conviction’s impact on your future.
So, how can you get the most out of your plea deal?
You need to go into your plea bargaining fully prepared and ready to negotiate for the best outcome possible. To do so, here are some things that you’ll want to do:
- Be realistic: While you want to avoid as many penalties as possible in your plea deal, the truth of the matter is that you’re going to get hit with something. So, be prepared for that reality, as doing so can help center you during negotiations.
- Know the evidence: You have to know the strengths and weaknesses of your case from both a defensive and a prosecutorial perspective. Once you do, you’ll know where you can push the prosecution to try to get what you want out of the plea deal.
- Have a goal: Going into plea bargaining, you know that you’re going to receive penalties. But you can target your negotiations by having a goal in mind. For many, this is simply to avoid incarceration. For others, it might mean keeping a felony conviction off their record. Be sure to identify what’s most important to you, which requires you to know your bargaining options.
- Understand the prosecution’s motivation: Some prosecutors want to wrap up their cases as quickly as possible to save themselves some time and resources. In other cases, though, the prosecutor wants to make an example, thereby creating a deterrent. If you can spot the prosecutor’s motivation, then you can modify your negotiation strategy accordingly to position for the best outcome possible.
- Don’t give in to aggressive offers: You might be tempted to quickly take a plea deal to get your case over with once and for all. But pouncing on a settlement offer too quickly can land you not only with a conviction, but with penalties that you otherwise could’ve avoided. Therefore, make sure you’re compromising with the prosecution but not totally caving in.
- Don’t negotiate alone: Some people who are accused of a criminal defense know that they did something wrong. In turn, they seek quick resolution without consulting with an attorney. But this can lead to a bad outcome, with the imposition of penalties that easily could’ve been sidestepped through effective negotiation strategies.
Are you ready fight for fairness in your criminal case?
If so, then now is the time to start developing your criminal defense strategy. That should start with an assessment of the evidence and determining whether you can seek dismissed charges or an acquittal. If those aren’t realistic possibilities, then you need to think about ways to position yourself for successful plea bargaining.
It can be scary to do that. After all, you’ll go into the process knowing that you’re going to face conviction and some penalties. But by embracing the process and entering it fully prepared, you can take comfort knowing that you can avoid the worst penalties possible in your case, which may include avoiding incarceration.