When it comes to criminal law, few topics are as controversial as plea bargains and wrongful convictions. Both of these aspects of the criminal justice system in Oklahoma and around the country can have a profound impact on the lives of defendants and their families.
What are plea bargains?
Plea bargains are agreements between defendants and prosecutors in which the defendant agrees to plead guilty to a crime in exchange for a reduced sentence or other benefits. Plea bargains can be an important tool for criminal defense lawyers, as they allow defendants to avoid the risk of a more severe sentence if they are convicted at trial. For instance, a defendant who is facing a possible sentence of life in prison may be willing to accept a plea bargain that results in a sentence of 15 years.
Plea bargains are not always available, and they are not always in the best interests of defendants. In some cases, defendants may be better off taking their chances at trial. This is particularly true if the evidence against them is weak or if there are strong grounds for an appeal.
What are some of the problems with plea bargains?
Plea bargains in Oklahoma can sometimes lead to wrongful convictions. This can happen when defendants get pressured into pleading guilty to a crime they did not commit. In this case, the defendant may be giving up their right to a fair trial and the chance to prove their innocence. For instance, a defendant who is facing a possible sentence of life in prison may get pressured into pleading guilty to a lesser charge, such as second-degree murder.
Plea bargains can also result in defendants serving longer sentences than they would have if they had gone to trial and been convicted. This is because plea bargains often involve the defendant pleading guilty to a more serious crime than the one they’re charged with. For instance, a defendant who’s charged with burglary may be offered a plea bargain in which they plead guilty to robbery.
Although plea bargains can be a valuable tool for criminal defense lawyers, they also have the potential to lead to wrongful convictions. Defendants who are considering a plea bargain should make sure they understand all of the risks involved before making a decision.