What is a plea deal?
A plea agreement is a written contract between the government and the defense. In the plea, the defendant accepts responsibility for a crime in exchange for a lighter punishment. Like any contract, there may be a benefit for each side. Generally, the benefit for the defendant is a less severe punishment than the one he may face at trial. For the government, a plea may mean avoiding the risk of losing at trial. Or, it may simply save the government time and money.
How does a plea agreement work?
Every case, whether it’s for drugs, money laundering, or other crimes, is unique. For that reason, every plea agreement is different too. A plea depends largely on the specific circumstances in your case. For example, the attorneys at Ralls & Wille may discover that the government illegally obtained evidence against you during the investigation. But neither the government nor the defense can be sure whether the court will agree with our assessment of the case. In turn, our attorneys, Stephen Ralls and Grant Wille, may conduct negotiations with the government, explaining how the government might lose the entire case, and therefore negotiate a favorable plea for the defendant that lowers the risk of losing for all of the parties involved.
Should I accept a plea?
By accepting a plea agreement, the defendant is also agreeing not to use all of the rights he has to fight against the charges. These rights are extremely important, and before deciding to accept a plea agreement, you must understand those rights. You must speak with your lawyer about the details of your case and plea offer before making a decision. For more general information on your rights, please see our post about “A Defendant’s Right During a Trial in the United States” for more information.