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How do Plea Bargains Work in Maryland Criminal Cases?

It may surprise you to learn that a majority of criminal cases resolve by a plea bargain rather than a trial. This is when a defendant agrees to take a deal and pleads guilty to a lesser crime. In exchange, the prosecutor will recommend that the judge impose a lighter sentence. A plea bargain is often desirable to both sides because it eliminated the need for a lengthy trial as well as the uncertainty of the outcome.

How are Plea Deals Reached?

Usually, a plea bargain is reached outside of court through the prosecutor and your attorney. Sometimes, there is a standard plea deal that is offered based on the particular crime. In other situations, there is an intense negotiation process between the prosecutor and your attorney to get the best deal.

Why Bother with a Maryland Criminal Defense Attorney if You are Pleading Guilty?

If you are planning to plead guilty, you may be wondering why you would need a Maryland criminal defense attorney. Do not assume that the prosecution is offering you the best deal they can. They may entice you to take the initial deal by telling you that you have no chance of winning at trial. You should never take a deal until you have spoken with a criminal lawyer first. It may turn out that the prosecution is lacking some important evidence but has you thinking they have a slam-dunk case. During the plea bargain negotiation phase, your attorney will point out weaknesses in the prosecution’s case in order to get you a better deal.

Should You Accept a Plea or Not?

The decision to accept a plea bargain is entirely a personal one. What may be good for your situation may not be for someone else. However, it is important to point out that recent research points out that defendants who do not accept the plea bargain are more likely to receive longer sentences at trial. According a multi-part series in the Maryland Reporter, defendants who choose to go to trial are receiving substantially longer sentences. For example, someone who pleads not guilty to unlawful possession of drugs received a sentence seven times longer than someone who pled guilty.

It is important to remember that some plea deals result in a conviction on your record, even if you do not serve any jail time. This could have serious long-term consequences. It can affect your ability to rent an apartment, qualify for a job, be accepted to school, have a license for a firearm, or even vote. This is why you need to carefully consider the consequences of a plea deal prior to agreeing to accept one.

Contact a Maryland Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have questions about plea bargains and/or are facing criminal charges, contact the Law Office of Robert R. Castro at 301-870-1200 to schedule a consultation. Let us help with your pending criminal case and ensure your rights are protected and the prosecutor offers you the best plea deal possible.

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