You are likely to get a plea deal before trial if you are facing criminal charges, given that most criminal cases in the country are resolved this way. The plea agreement may involve you pleading guilty or no contest to some or all the charges against you in exchange for a lighter sentence.
While it sounds like a good deal, it helps to know what you are signing up for before agreeing to the terms of the plea bargain. Not everyone understands how things work with plea deals or the rights they give up after accepting a plea deal. Here is what you need to know.
The rights you waive when you agree to a plea deal
You have a Constitutional right to a jury trial which you waive upon accepting a plea deal. Admitting guilt negates the necessity of a jury trial, which means there will be no deliberations on your innocence.
You also give up your right against self-incrimination. Usually, you can legally remain silent and not provide self-incriminating statements during a trial. However, by admitting to breaking the law when you plead guilty, you are essentially testifying against yourself.
Another right you give up is the right to confront witnesses. You cannot cross-examine witnesses or call your own to the stand since it is not a trial per se.
Protect your rights and interests
There is so much on the line if you are charged with a criminal offense. You could lose your freedom and end up with a criminal record if found guilty. Therefore, it is advisable to seek qualified legal representation from the onset.
The proper guidance and information will help you make decisions that serve your best interests, such as whether you should accept the plea deal or take your chances at trial.