The Pros and Cons of Accepting a Plea Bargain in Nevada

pros and cons of plea bargaining

Plea bargains can be a risky trade-off. You’re at a crossroads, and you can either accept the deal, which will mean less time in jail but charges on your record, or refuse and risk facing harsher sentences.

It’s a tough choice to make, especially when you’re already feeling uncertain and anxious. To make the best decision, it’s important to stay calm and evaluate the potential risks and rewards of each option. 

Pros of Accepting a Plea Bargain

While plea bargains come with risks, they offer alluring benefits to plead guilty rather than face trial.  Let’s examine why prosecutors and defense attorneys persuade clients to make deals.

Lesser Charges and Reduced Sentences

By pleading guilty, defendants can negotiate for lesser charges or sentencing concessions with significantly less prison time.

For example, agreeing to a guilty plea to a category B felony rather than pursuing an A felony at trial could halve the sentencing range from life in prison years to just 1-20 years. 

Saving Time and Resources

Another plus to resolving a case through plea bargaining is saving precious time, and resources that taking a case to trial would require. Trials require exponentially more preparation, evidence gathering, witness interviews, research, motions practice, hearings, and court dates.

Even a relatively straightforward trial can require dozens of hours of legal work and drag the case on for months or years. Complex cases involving multiple charges, co-defendants, and significant fact disputes can involve much work, with hundreds of person-hours spent dueling the prosecution.

From the defendant’s perspective, avoiding this time commitment and the stress of pending charges can make a plea bargain appealing so they can take responsibility and move forward.

Certainty in the Process

Finally, taking a plea bargain may provide certainty amidst the chaos of facing criminal prosecution. Rather than leaving their fate up to the judge or jury and hoping for the best at trial, defendants regain control over the outcome when they accept a plea deal’s concrete terms.

Defendants who are cautious about taking risks might prefer the certainty of defined consequences and strict sentence limits instead of taking their chances in court. Even if the defense case is strong, an acquittal cannot be guaranteed. Therefore, the possibility of facing worse outcomes, if the verdict is unfavorable, makes the peace of mind of defined consequences more valuable.

Cons of Accepting a Plea Bargain

Despite the tempting upsides, plea bargains also impose harsh consequences that devastate lives when entered hastily or lightly. Before pleading, defendants must soberly consider these drawbacks that can forever affect their futures.

Possibility of Innocence

The most painful possibility surrounding plea bargains is an innocent person pleading guilty due to pressure or lack of options. An effective defense requires substantial legal fees beyond most people’s means. 

Prosecutors can use their power to threaten defendants with more serious charges, making them feel forced to accept plea bargains just to avoid the risk of being punished more severely. This means that the defendant may end up accepting a deal that is not in their best interest.

Impact on Constitutional Rights

By accepting a plea bargain rather than contesting charges at trial, defendants waive their constitutional rights to confrontation of witnesses, exclusion of illegally obtained evidence, and a jury deciding guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

While sometimes warranted to mitigate sentencing exposure, surrendering these protections should give all citizens a pause. Particularly when considering how said plea deals may encourage the expansion of state power and the erosion of civil liberties over time.

Public Safety Considerations

Some criminal justice advocates also warn plea bargaining undermines crime deterrence, just punishment, and public safety by allowing defendants to “get off easy.” When prosecutions consistently offer generous deals well below the actual legal consequences, the threat lacks teeth and undermines respect for the law’s moral authority.

Granted, many factors beyond deterrence determine appropriate justice, like personal background, victim satisfaction, and resource constraints. However, patterns of habitual leniency could negatively impact public obedience and safety compared to consistently strict enforcement.

What to Consider Before Accepting a Plea Deal

Plea bargains promise convenience yet require careful review. Before admitting any fault or concessions, think through how this impacts your life. 

Our Nevada defense attorneys can help you consider the following factors: 

  • Strength of Evidence – Objectively review the evidence against and in your favor. If proof seems questionable or you have compelling proof of innocence, refusing the deal to clear your name may be best long-term.
  • Odds of Conviction – Analyze whether conviction or acquittal is more likely if brought to full trial. Ensure you understand where the legal case stands before deciding the wisest path.
  • Potential Sentence – Compare the plea deal sentence to what your sentence odds are if convicted at trial for the same charges. Gauge if significantly more jail time is probable if you go to trial and lose.
  • Wider Impacts – Consider how even pleading to lesser charges permanently damages your reputation, job options, immigration status, and other facets of life.

By reflecting holistically, clarity will come on which values-aligned option serves you best.

Weigh Your Options Carefully With a Nevada Criminal Defense Lawyer

Plea bargain decisions breed sleepless nights. But you don’t need to weigh the tradeoffs alone. Connect with our Nevada defense lawyer. We can help ensure you fully understand your case and options.

We thoroughly review the evidence and provide impartial case assessments. We explain potential trial outcomes and sentencing guidelines in plain terms. We have open conversations about your goals and concerns. This empowers you to make informed decisions aligned with your interests so you can move forward confidently without future regrets.

Rather than accept deals by default amidst pressure or miss critical details due to stress, lean on our experience. Contact our firm online or by phone. We offer clear guidance so your choices resonate as the right next steps ahead. Together, we confront uncertainty armed with facts and eyes wide open.



Author Bio

Benjamin Durham is the principal attorney and founder of Benjamin Durham Law Firm, a criminal defense law firm based in Las Vegas, NV. With over 20 years of experience in the legal field, he represents clients in both injury and criminal cases. Over his career, he has secured favorable verdicts for clients in both state and federal courts and successfully defended numerous high-profile prosecutions.

Ben’s exceptional legal skills and dedication to his clients have earned him recognition as a life member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He also has been honored as one of the Top 100 trial lawyers by the National Trial Lawyers Association, further solidifying his reputation as a top-notch legal practitioner.

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