If you are facing criminal charges for the first time in your life, you probably have a lot of questions going through your mind. Will you go to jail or prison? Will you have to do community service? Can you get off with just probation? Will you lose your job? Will you ever be able to get a good job again? And, “Will my case go to trial?”
If you’re like most citizens who have never been mixed up with the law, what you know about criminal cases you learned by watching TV and movies. You may have even been glued to some of the most famous televised trials, such as Ted Bundy, O.J. Simpson, Jeffrey Dahmer, the Rodney King trial, the Menendez brothers, Lindsay Lohan, Jodi Arias, and Casey Anthony to name a few. But what about you, will you go to trial too?
Fact: Few Criminal Cases Go to Trial
We want you to be made aware that in real life, very few criminal cases go to trial and there are several reasons for this, including the fact that if the state took every case to trial, it would be bankrupt. Aside from that, the prosecutor may dismiss charges for lack of sufficient evidence, or the defense may have succeeded in getting the judge to approve a motion to suppress evidence. But in the majority of criminal cases, the case does not make it to trial because the defendant and the prosecution agree on a plea deal.
Plea bargains are beneficial for both sides. For one, prosecutors hate to lose so even if they can get a conviction for a less serious crime, it looks better on their record. Second, a plea bargain usually means the defendant is convicted of a lighter charge or charges, and he or she has a shorter sentence, sometimes a much shorter sentence. Additionally, defendants can save a lot in legal fees by avoiding trial because trials are expensive.
A defendant cannot be forced into accepting a plea bargain. Ultimately, it’s the defendant who decides whether or not to accept a plea deal. Likewise, it’s the defendant who decides if their case will go to trial.
If the defendant is innocent and they are being wrongfully accused, it would not make sense for them to take a deal and “plead guilty” to something they didn’t do. But if the defendant did make a mistake, taking a plea deal may be in their best interests depending on the offer that’s on the table.