3 ways a plea bargain can go wrong in your case

On Behalf of | Feb 19, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Entering into a plea agreement with the prosecution can seem like an appealing way to resolve a criminal case. Defendants may view it as an opportunity to receive a lighter sentence or close an unpleasant chapter.

However, plea deals do carry risks that every defendant should carefully weigh before accepting.

1. Failing to meet the conditions

Most plea agreements come with certain stipulations, whether completing a rehab program, paying fines or providing testimony. If the defendant does not fully satisfy these contingencies, the deal could become void. A breach like this after already pleading guilty leaves the defendant in a compromised position, now with a formal admission of guilt but no guarantee of the expected outcome.

2. Getting an unexpected sentence

While plea negotiations often provide an estimated sentence based on the charges and circumstances, the final decision lies with the judge. Despite recommendations from both parties, the judge may opt to hand down a different punishment than you agreed upon. This possibility underscores the inherently uncertain nature of plea deals from the defendant’s perspective.

3. New information emerging

New evidence or information brought to light could also disrupt the terms of a plea agreement or negate it entirely. If the prosecution shares previously undisclosed evidence with the defense after you formalize a plea deal, this revelation could change your motivation for accepting it. Even evidence suggesting innocence could surface. Such new data could warrant withdrawing from the negotiation.

While plea bargains allow defendants to exercise some control over their case outcome, unintended consequences could still emerge. The more you understand, the easier it is to choose the right path in your case.