Facing criminal charges can be a daunting experience, leading many individuals to consider plea bargains as a way to resolve their legal predicaments.
While plea bargains may seem like a quick solution, it is important to carefully weigh the potential drawbacks before making such a decision.
1. Unintended consequences on your record
Entering a plea bargain may result in a criminal conviction on your record. This record can have lasting consequences, affecting your employment opportunities, housing options and even your ability to secure loans.
2. Potential for harsher sentences
Ironically, plea bargains, which exist to offer lighter sentences, may sometimes result in unexpectedly severe consequences. Prosecutors might present a seemingly lenient deal, only to recommend a harsher sentence during the sentencing phase.
3. Collateral consequences
Beyond the courtroom, a plea bargain can trigger collateral consequences, impacting various aspects of your life. For instance, certain convictions may lead to the loss of professional licenses, deportation for non-citizens or the suspension of driving privileges.
4. Social stigma and reputation damage
Accepting a plea bargain may also subject you to social stigma and damage your reputation within your community. Even if the legal consequences are minimal, the perception of guilt can linger, affecting relationships, employment and societal standing.
5. Limited legal recourse
Accepting a plea bargain often involves waiving your right to appeal. This means that if new evidence emerges or legal errors occur during your case, you may be unable to seek recourse.
Between November 2022 and November 2023, 227,081 people faced criminal charges in Pennsylvania. While those charged with a crime may see plea bargains as a way to get back to life faster, the decision to take one should be carefully considered.