Minnesota takes drug crimes very seriously, something that is made quite clear when you look at the penalties that can be faced when charged with crimes such as possession of a controlled substance.
For many people, a plea bargain may be the best way to avoid a criminal trial and perhaps get a better outcome for the case. However, that may not always be true. When it comes to plea bargains, there are definite pros and cons that anyone considering one should know about.
Here is what you need to know about plea bargains, including what is good and not so good about them, as well as the penalties that can be faced for anyone convicted of drug crimes in Minnesota.
What Is a Plea Bargain?
A plea bargain is basically a compromise that is made by your attorney with the prosecution. It requires the defendant to plead guilty to what are often lesser charges in exchange for certain things such as a more lenient sentence or the dropping of other charges in the case.
The Pros of a Plea Bargain in Minnesota
There are definitely some advantages to negotiating a plea bargain with the prosecution. The biggest is that it often leads to a better outcome for you, such as fewer fines or less time in jail or prison.
Some of the other advantages include:
- No uncertainty in your case – Going to trial is a gamble. While it is certainly possible that you may be found innocent or otherwise win or get a better outcome in your case, you never know. There is also the possibility that you will be found guilty of more serious charges and suffer more severe penalties. Taking a plea bargain ends that uncertainty.
- An end to the case – There’s a lot of emotional pressure when a case goes to trial – and a large cost, too. A plea agreement effectively ends your case – putting an end to that pressure.
The Cons of a Plea Bargain
Of course, it’s not all good news when you negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecutor.
There are some disadvantages that must be weighed to ensure you get the outcome that is best for you. Some of these disadvantages include:
- No chance to argue your case – Rarely do prosecutors have air-tight cases against defendants. By accepting the plea bargain, you lose the ability to poke holes in the prosecution’s case against you and point out any obvious issues in their case.
- You’ll be guilty – A plea bargain means you are agreeing to be convicted of a crime. Sure, the crime may not be as serious as what you were initially charged with, but it’s still a guilty mark on your record that can impact your life down the road.
- It’s up to the court – Even if you reach an agreement for a plea bargain with a prosecutor, that doesn’t mean it’s done. The plea bargain still has to be presented to the court and they ultimately have the final say in whether it can go forward or not. The court has to approve.
The Severity of Drug Crime Penalties in Minnesota
The biggest reason people accept plea bargains in drug crimes cases is because of the penalties that can be faced if you’re found guilty of a serious drug charge.
For example, in Minnesota, first-degree possession of a controlled substance can send you to jail for up to 40 years and make you responsible for fines of up to $1 million. If you’re facing something that serious, pleading to a lesser crime definitely has some appeal.
Is a plea bargain right for you? Before making that decision, the best thing to do is to consult with an experienced MN criminal attorney.
About the Author:
Christopher Keyser is an AV-Preeminent rated criminal and DWI defense attorney based in Minneapolis who is known for fighting aggressively for his clients and utilizing innovative tactics to get the most positive results. He has been featured in numerous media outlets due to the breadth and depth of his knowledge and named a Certified Specialist in Criminal Law by the Minnesota Bar Association. Mr. Keyser is Lead Counsel rated, and he has received recognition for his criminal law work from Avvo, Expertise, Super Lawyers, The National Trial Lawyers, and more.