In an ideal world, every Illinois resident who faces DUI or drug charges would be able to prove their innocence and avoid the harsh penalties that can accompany convictions on such charges. However, in some circumstances the facts and evidence that prosecutors are able to collect on a case may make defeating criminal charges next to impossible. For some criminal defendants, considering a plea deal can be a reasonable part of a criminal defense strategy.
A plea deal is a negotiation that may reduce a defendant’s charges or sentencing requirements in exchange for their guilty plea. Although a prosecutor, defendant and the defendant’s defense attorney can work out a deal that they believe is just, the court hearing the defendant’s criminal case is not compelled to accept the deal if it does not appear warranted. Generally, there are three requirements that plea deals must meet in order to be sound.
First, a defendant must knowingly acknowledge that they are waiving certain rights by entering a guilty plea based on the terms of their agreement. Next, that defendant must waive their rights to trial and the use of other defenses voluntarily and may not be compelled by their attorneys or third parties to accept deals that they do not want to concede to. Finally, the facts of the defendant’s case must support the charges that they agree to plead guilty to and must back up the case the prosecutor makes for permitting the deal as agreed to.
For some defendants, plea negotiations will result in much better outcomes than the defendants would have received if they had taken their cases to trial. However, it is important for all people facing criminal charges to consider their their criminal defense options. Not all cases are suited to plea deals.