You get arrested on felony allegations. If convicted, you’ll spend a year in jail. However, they offer you a deal. If you plead guilty, you can spend your year on probation, living at home, and you won’t have to serve your time behind bars.
The alternative is to fight the charges. If you get convicted anyway, then you know what the sentence is likely to be. If you win the case, naturally, you don’t have to go to jail either, but it’s no guarantee. Wrongful convictions happen far too often. What should you do?
Weighing your options
This type of plea deal is a common practice by courts all over the United States. It’s even done with misdemeanor charges and other minor cases. Even if someone is only looking at a month in jail, for instance, odds are that they want to avoid it. The court sometimes gives them an option to do so, as long as they plead guilty.
You have to weigh what options you have and what the results will be. Remember that it goes beyond merely that time in jail.
For instance, say you plead guilty and take the deal. Now you can go home and spend time on probation. You’re currently a college student anyway, so you just focus on your studies and avoid legal trouble. No big deal, right?
The position you’re studying for, though, requires a professional license. One of the stipulations for getting that license, you find out, is that you can’t have a criminal record. Like it or not, by pleading guilty, you do have a record.
What has happened is that you avoided time in jail, but it cost you your entire career. Even if it’s not that dire — maybe you don’t need a license — it can just make it harder to get any job with a record. If you plead guilty, you put your future at risk.
How to move forward
This is not to say that a plea deal never works. It’s just that you need to consider all of the ramifications when deicing how to move forward, and working with an experienced law firm can help.