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Plea Bargaining vs. Going To Trial -

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Plea Bargaining vs. Going To Trial


Facing charges for a crime or several crimes can be a complex and daunting situation. Knowing your options and rights is one of your best defenses for your case. After receiving your charges, you may find yourselves with two possibilities, plea bargaining or going to trial. It is crucial to know and understand the advantages and disadvantages of both. This helps you to choose the process that will benefit you the most.

What is Plea Bargaining

Plea bargaining is the negotiation between prosecutors and a criminal defendant. Both sides work to agree on the charge that the defendant will plead guilty to. Usually, the defendant pleads guilty to one charge or a lesser charge in exchange for a lighter sentence or other benefits. A prosecutor may choose to negotiate a plea instead of going to trial because it gets the matter over quickly and reduces their caseload while ensuring a conviction. Another reason they may choose to negotiate is if they may need the defendant to be a witness in another or more significant case. Negotiating a plea may allow them to get the conviction they need in another case if that defendant testifies. It isn’t just the prosecution that can benefit from plea bargaining; the defendant can benefit as well.

Benefits of Plea Bargaining

There are quite a few benefits to pleading guilty, and if you and your lawyer decide to go this route, you will go through your case with more certainty on what your outcome will be.


  1. You Usually Plead Guilty To A Lesser Charge
  2. Receive a Lighter Sentence
  3. Avoid Publicity
  4. Get The Matter Over Quickly
  5. Saving Money


One major disadvantage of pleading guilty is that if you are innocent, you are accepting the blame for a crime you did not commit. Many times, people who may not have the means to pay for high brow legal counsel to defend them in a trial, find themselves in the plea bargaining process. It is an unfortunate circumstance for those who are being accused and charged with a crime they did not commit.  Another disadvantage is that the judge does not have to honor plea bargaining agreements, so even if you agreed to plead guilty for a lighter sentence, the judge has full discretion over whether to accept that agreement. Finally, specific charges come with a mandatory minimum sentence that you will have to serve if you plead guilty. In these cases, it is always important to discuss your options with an experienced lawyer.


Benefits of Going To Trial

The benefits of going to trial protect your fundamental rights to due process. It protects you from having to incriminate yourself for the crimes that you are being accused of.  There are many reasons why someone would consider going to trial versus taking a plea deal. One of these reasons usually deals with a lack of evidence on the prosecution’s side.

  1. The Possibility of Being Found “Not Guilty”
  2. More time to prepare a defense
  3. Presumed Innocent Until A Verdict Is Reached
  4. Prosecutors Have the Burden of Proof


While going to trial allows you to exercise your right to a trial by jury, if you are found “Guilty” of the charges against you, it is possible that you could receive the maximum sentence for your crime. Bypassing the plea deal and going to trial means that you give up the chance of having a say in the terms of your sentencing. If you go to trial using a public defender, it is very likely that your case will not receive the attention it needs. Public defender caseloads are often very heavy. The time and dedication needed for your case during a trial is often not available. If you go to trial using a private attorney will be better for your case. But, it is usually a pretty expensive route as it requires a plethora of your attorney’s time.


Which One Is Best For You

When it comes to determining if plea bargaining or going to trial the best route for you to take there are several factors you need to consider. They include:


  • Finances
  • Innocence
  • Evidence Against You
  • Did Law Enforcement Violate Any of Your Rights
  • Prior Criminal History


Discussing this with a highly experienced attorney can help you decide the best route for you to take in your criminal case. In New York, it is crucial for you to call one of the best criminal defense attorneys to make sure you don’t lose yourself in our confusing and complicated criminal justice system. The Law Offices of Troy Smith can help you. It doesn’t matter if you are in Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn, or Queens, we are here for you. Give us a call today!