When You Should Accept a Plea Deal in a Criminal Case in Utah
When faced with a trial for criminal charges in Utah, criminal defendants have several options at their disposal. First, you may plead not guilty and have a full trial where a jury will hear evidence and testimony before reaching a verdict. Second, you may choose to plead guilty and move directly to sentencing. However, a guilty plea can be used as a bargaining chip to get your charges reduced before your plea is formally entered.
By accepting a plea deal, also known as a plea bargain or plea agreement, you waive your right to a trial. However, plea deals can be beneficial because your charges are often reduced, and your final sentence is lighter. However, plea deals are not “get out of jail free cards,” and you will ultimately serve a criminal sentence. It may be a good time to accept a plea deal when your case is weak and acquittal is unlikely, or when your case has aggravating circumstances that may drive up your sentence.
You should speak with a lawyer as soon as possible if you have been charged with a crime in Utah. The criminal justice process can be long and complex, and the only person who will fight for you is a defense lawyer. Our Utah criminal defense lawyers can help you. Call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 to speak with our experienced staff about a free consultation.
Good Times to Accept a Plea Deal in a Utah Criminal Case
Accepting a plea is ultimately up to the defendant. Your attorney can advise you on the situation and even help you negotiate a good deal. However, whether you accept that deal is your decision as your trial rights are being waived. With that being said, there are some circumstances in which it may be wise to consider a plea deal.
First, you might want to consider a plea deal when you have a weak case. A weak case does not mean you are guilty. It does mean there is not a lot of evidence supporting your case. If a guilty verdict seems like the most likely outcome of a trial, your attorney can reach out to the prosecutor about a plead deal. That way, if you must serve a criminal sentence, you can serve a more lenient one.
You can also arrange a plea deal when your case is strong, but you are still unsure of the outcome. The more evidence you have supporting your case, the more bargaining power you have in plea deal negotiations. A prosecutor may be more willing to cut a more generous deal if they have a greater chance of losing at trial. However, a plea deal may not be necessary if you have so much strong evidence that you could win at your trial.
Plea deals can also be helpful when the jury on your case seems unpredictable or likely to be swayed against you. Jurors are meant to be totally impartial and may only consider the evidence presented at the trial. However, people tend to have inherent biases that influence their decision-making. For example, if you are charged with assaulting a child, any jurors who are parents may be more inclined to find you guilty. A plea deal can help you avoid unpredictable jurors and get a more favorable sentence. Keep in mind, any serious jury biases should be reported to the judge right away.
Speak with our Park City criminal defense lawyers to discuss your trial options. We can help you come up with an effective defense strategy or negotiate a favorable deal.
Accepting a Plea Deal as Part of a Diversion Program
You may want to accept a plea deal when it involves entering a diversion program. In these cases, your charges or sentence may not be reduced as part of the agreement. However, completion of the program may result in a dismissal of your case. Usually, when you plead guilty and enter a diversion program, your guilty plea is held in abeyance. When a plea is held in abeyance, it is set aside and not formally entered until later.
Upon successfully completing your program, the judge may throw away your guilty plea and dismiss your case. However, failure to complete the program may result in the judge entering your guilty plea, and you will have to face the criminal penalties.
If you are eligible for a diversion program, your attorney can talk to prosecutors about arranging a plea agreement in which you plead guilty and enter the program. Keep in mind, the success of this kind of agreement depends on your willingness to complete your diversion program. Your plea will have been for nothing if you fail, and your guilty plea will be entered. Call our Ogden criminal defense attorneys for more information.
Consequences of Accepting a Plea Deal in a Utah Criminal Case
You should talk to your attorney before accepting a plea deal, as there are some consequences. One of the biggest drawbacks to accepting a plea deal is that your appellate rights become very restricted. When you file a direct appeal, you are arguing about legal errors that happened during your trial. If you accept a plea deal, you waive your right to a trial. Therefore, there are no errors you can argue on appeal.
However, your appellate rights are not completely destroyed. You may be able to appeal your plea deal if you were unlawfully induced to accept it. For example, if the prosecutor was dishonest about the consequences of rejecting their plea offer, you might be able to appeal your plea deal. However, this may be rather challenging because courts like to make sure a defendant is fully aware of their actions when they accept a plea deal. The court will make sure your plea is made knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily before allowing it to go through.
Our Sandy criminal defense lawyers can help you negotiate a good plea deal. Call our offices today to speak with our legal team about your case.
Contact Our Utah Criminal Defense Lawyers for Help Negotiating a Plea Deal
If you are charged with a criminal offense, you may want to think about negotiating a plea deal if you would rather avoid a stressful trial. Our South Jordan criminal defense attorneys are here to help. Call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287, and we can arrange a free legal consultation about your situation.