A plea bargain in the state of California is a negotiation that is made between the prosecutor and the defendant wherein the latter agrees that he will plead guilty in exchange for something that benefits him. These benefits can include:
- The dropping of one or multiple charges
- The reduction of the charge against the defendant to a less serious one
- The recommendation of some other specific sentence that the defendant agrees to in exchange for the plea
However, if you do agree to a plea bargain, do you then have to be concerned that the plea bargain will show up on your criminal record? The answer to that question is “yes,” which is why it is so important that you seek legal advice from a qualified lawyer before you agree to a plea bargain.
Your Criminal Record
When you accept a plea bargain, you are pleading guilty to a charge. It may be a lesser charge, but you’re still pleading guilty nonetheless. This results in a conviction, and a conviction can end up on your criminal record.
Basically, the point of a plea bargain is to end the case without the need for the time, cost, and other resources that otherwise would have been devoted to a trial. Plea bargains are not for the benefit of the defendant. They are for the benefit of the courts and the prosecution.
When you take a plea, the prosecution and the courts are happy that they didn’t have to work as hard to put an end to the case. They’re already overworked, and you’re nothing more than an additional case to add to their already full workload. If they can finish up the case with as little work as possible, then that’s what they’re going to do.
Don’t make it easier for them unless a plea bargain truly would benefit you and your future. But how can you know for sure? Discussing its terms with a lawyer who has been through this before can give you the confidence you need to reject an offer that is not in your best interest.
What You Lose
Accepting a plea bargain is not something that should be done lightly. If you agree to be convicted of a lesser charge, you could still lose certain rights you might have otherwise been able to enjoy if you were found innocent, like:
- The right to vote
- The right to travel out of the country
- The right to own a gun
- The right to participate in jury duty
- The right to enjoy certain parental benefits, like custody and visitation
You might also be denied certain employment opportunities or even public assistance upon being convicted of a crime. Here at the Simmrin Law Group, we strongly advise that you speak with a lawyer skilled in the area of criminal law who can help you determine whether a plea deal is the right way to go.
Right to Appeal
Here’s something scary: if it turns out that you accepted a plea bargain that wasn’t in your best interest, you may not even be able to appeal it. Prosecutors suggest to the judge the sentence they feel best fits the crime. However, the judge does not have to go with the prosecution’s suggestion and can order a sentence that is more or less harsh than that which is proposed by the prosecution.
If you accept a plea bargain, and the judge’s sentence is ultimately unfair, you may not be able to appeal it because you waived your right to a trial. This means that you also waived any opportunity you had to present evidence that would have otherwise proved your innocence – or at least would have lessened your guilt.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again. You have to be absolutely sure that a plea bargain is right for you before you accept it. A criminal defense lawyer is your best resource when you’re trying to determine what to do next.
Considering A Plea Bargain? Call Us Right Away!
It may be tempting to accept a plea bargain. You may be enticed by the idea of finally getting some closure, rather than worrying about what could happen if your case went to trial. But you should never take a plea bargain without seeking legal advice. You may think you’re being offered a fair deal when, in reality, it’s nothing of the sort.
The prosecutor is not your friend. He wants to get away with working on your case for as little time as possible. He doesn’t care how the plea deal he offers you will affect your future – but we do. Here at Simmrin Law Group, our criminal defense lawyers have seen it all before, and we are here to help you avoid making a mistake that you can’t take back.
Give us a call at (310) 997-4688 or fill out the form to the right to be connected to one of our qualified professionals. You will receive a free consultation, and you are under no obligation to retain us. Let us review your case and give you the advice you need to make what is perhaps the most important decision of your life.