If facing criminal charges of any kind, the accused have a few options available while going through the legal process. In many Georgia cases, prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys are able to work together to come up with a plea deal that benefits all parties involved. However, there also downsides to accepting a plea deal, particularly for the person being charged.
Generally speaking, when a defendant agrees to a plea deal, they typically agree to plead guilty to a lesser criminal charge and receive a reduced sentence. There are many pros to agreeing to a plea deal for judges, prosecutors and defendants.
For instance, plea deals can help prevent prison overcrowding and keep judges from having to schedule unnecessary trials when they already have a full docket. Prosecutors also benefit in that they are guaranteed a conviction of some kind, without having to go through a long and expensive trial that may or may not give them the conviction they wanted. Prosecutors may also be able to use a plea bargain with one defendant to get the evidence or testimony they need to convict a second defendant. Defendants who accept a plea deal benefit by having less serious convictions on their criminal records and less severe consequences. Defendants can also save money and time by avoiding a lengthy trial, which may result in a more serious conviction than they would have gotten if they had just taken the deal.
But, plea deals are not always the best option for defendants. Pleading guilty to any crime, even a less serious one, will likely have long-term effects on one's life and can affect the ability to find employment, maintain custody of children or acquire a loan.