In many criminal cases, you have the option of accepting a plea bargain (also called a “plea deal” or “plea agreement”) or going forward with a Florida criminal trial. Unfortunately, a criminal trial can be a long, involved process that lasts for many days or even weeks. Moreover, the outcome of a criminal trial can be extremely uncertain, given that a Florida judge or a jury of your peers will be deciding the outcome of your case.
You should keep in mind that judges and juries do not know you personally and are only deciding the case based upon the evidence that is presented in the courtroom during the trial. Therefore, their decisions and verdicts are unpredictable, and if you decide to reject a plea deal, in a sense, you give up control over the outcome of your criminal case.
An experienced St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyer will be able to help you decide whether you should accept a plea bargain or take your case to trial. If you decide to reject the plea deal and go to trial, an experienced attorney will be able to help you prepare for the trial and put your best foot forward when it comes to testifying on the witness stand.
The Basics Behind Plea Deals
A plea deal basically allows a criminal defendant to plead guilty to a less serious charge (typically with lesser penalties) than the crime with which the defendant was initially charged. Common examples include being charged with drug distribution and pleading down to the lesser charge of drug possession or being charged with murder and pleading down to the lesser charge of manslaughter.
As part of a plea deal, a criminal defendant may also be able to agree to a period of supervised or unsupervised probation, as opposed to jail time.
Although plea deals eliminate the lengthy trial process, it is essential to note that in accepting a plea deal and pleading guilty to a crime, a criminal defendant gives up certain constitutional rights. Two of the most important rights that a criminal defendant waives in accepting a plea deal include the following:
- The right to a jury trial
- The right to an appeal, except in very limited circumstances
A criminal defendant must also state on the record that the plea deal is made knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily – and without any threats or coercion from someone else.
Contact an Experienced St. Petersburg Criminal Defense Attorney Today to Discuss Your Case
Plea deals can be complicated agreements. Our criminal defense attorneys have the legal knowledge and experience to help you decide if accepting a plea deal is in your best interests. To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyer, please call us or contact us online.