Pitfalls of Early Plea Bargains
Like many criminal case defendants, you may be tempted to plead guilty to a more serious charge in exchange for less jail time. But be warned that such early plea bargains can result in even worse problems for you in the future. If you can wait to plea until the next court appearance, the prosecutor may reduce the charges to a summary offense in exchange for either a small fine or a sentence of time served. However, pleading guilty to a more serious charge often creates a criminal history that negatively affects any future criminal cases you might have. Pleading guilty to a more serious charge can carry collateral consequences. For example:
- If you plead guilty to a state misdemeanor that has a maximum possible sentence of more than two years imprisonment, you will be disqualified forever from legally possessing a firearm.
- If you plead guilty to a drug offense – delivery or simple possession – you will not able to obtain any federal student aid for at least one year, including low-interest federally guaranteed student loans.
A Sacramento misdemeanor criminal defense attorney can help you avoid many of the possible disadvantages of accepting an early plea bargain offer. For example, an experienced and thorough criminal defense attorney will:
- Exercise caution before advising you to enter a guilty plea. A prosecutor’s early generosity could reflect an undisclosed weakness in the state’s case. Your Sacramento misdemeanor attorney may be able to spot serious weaknesses in the prosecution’s evidence and may advise you to hold out for a better deal later. Sometimes, once the prosecutor sees that his or her bluff has been called, the prosecutor will make a better offer.
- Have access to a network of knowledgeable and experienced public defenders and other lawyers who appear regularly in the local criminal court and who gauge the value of various kinds of misdemeanor cases.
- Get as much information about the case as possible from you, witnesses, and from the prosecution and the police.
- Advise you that a guilty plea may follow you for the rest of your life. A conviction can increase your sentences in any future prosecutions. A criminal record is also likely to hinder your ability to find jobs.
For legal assistance in your criminal trial, consider retaining experienced Sacramento criminal defense attorney Param Pabla. Call today.