Here Are the Pros and Cons
Video Transcript: Should I take their offer? My name is Brian L. Jackson, I’m a lawyer in Tulsa with Wirth Law Office. And I want to talk a little bit about a question that you come across a lot in criminal practice, which is the idea of, should I take that plea offer?
This is a complicated question, and I’m not going to give you a pad answer because there isn’t one. I can tell you things that are worth considering. What is the offer? How serious is the sentencing recommendation? There’s a world of difference between, for example, if you are offered a deferral versus a suspended sentence, if you’re offered a suspended sentence versus time to do.
Obviously you will want to talk to counsel about things like how strong is the evidence? Are there any procedural infirmities that might get evidence or testimony thrown out? How credible are the witnesses? How likely are witnesses to show up? What is it exactly that you did to get charged, can matter as well.
There are circumstances where, okay, yes, it’s a technical law violation, but it’s one of those situations where it’s so dumb that you take it to a jury, jury’s liable to shake their heads and be like, ‘why are you wasting our time? Goodbye’. That’s what’s called the jury nullification.
So deciding to take a deal or not is a complicated question, and it’s where you really need to talk to a good lawyer. The risks of going to trial are obvious. You can get really lit up if you get convicted. Juries are usually not very merciful in this state, and you may end up with a situation where you could have been out on probation and instead you’re locked up in jail, you go to prison.
On the other hand, if you get a crappy wreck, maybe worth the risk. Or if you really didn’t do it and you want to assert your innocence, then yeah, you go to trial to do that. Also, if there’s procedural defects, that could be a reason to proceed to some motion practice, like for example, filing motions to exclude evidence or filing motions to exclude certain lines of testimony. You may want to raise that. You may be dealing with a situation where there’s a witness, a key witness that’s non cooperative, so it may be that the case falls apart and you could walk away. But it’s always a gamble to go to jury trial because juries are unpredictable.
On the other hand, you take a plea deal, you know exactly what you’re getting most of the time because although judges in this state aren’t bound by plea agreements, they will usually honor what was agreed to. That’s generally what happens, and at least you know what you’re getting. But on the other hand, it may be one of those things where you end up pleading no contest to something that you really honestly believe you didn’t do.
It may be a situation where it comes with other collateral legal consequences. For example, if you plead guilty to a domestic violence charge and you’re in family court and you have child custody at issue, that’s a strike against you walking through the door of the family court. So these are things to contemplate when you’re deciding what to do. Obviously your employment is a factor.
There’s some jobs if you cop a plea to certain types of offenses, you will not have a job anymore. So it’s a complicated question and you need to discuss holistically everything that’s going on. And one of the things that it’s important when you’re talking to your lawyer on this topic is make sure you cover any collateral issues you may be dealing with. For example, if you have a domestic violence charge and you’re in family court over custody, if you have two different lawyers, like you have your criminal lawyer and your family lawyer, if the criminal lawyer isn’t aware of the situation in family court, they may recommend you take a plea that could really screw your case in family court. So it is a complicated question.
You need to be disclosed fully to your lawyer and you need a good lawyer. And one place you can find a good criminal defense attorney in Tulsa, Oklahoma is at makelaweasy.com, where we’ll help you out.