If you are facing criminal charges, there is a high chance the prosecution will offer you a plea deal. The vast majority of criminal cases take this route these days. While jury trials still happen, and you still have the right to one, their use has declined to less than one in ten cases.
This is great for the court system as it reduces their burden of work. It’s great for prosecutors as it guarantees them another win. Unfortunately, as a defendant, it’s often unsatisfactory.
Why do people plead guilty unless they think it’s a good deal?
Defendants might not necessarily feel they are getting a good deal by pleading guilty. Rather, they believe it’s the best deal available to them.
Sometimes it will be. Yet often, people accept unfavorable deals because they do not know any better. Or, because they fear the possible consequences of not taking it.
Remember, a prosecutor is out to get a prosecution
Some of them have no qualms about exaggerating the consequences of not accepting their offer. They may try to stack extra charges on top of the original one. Or say they will push the judge for the maximum applicable sentence.
When you weigh that up against their offer of pleading guilty to a lesser charge or pleading guilty in exchange for a reduced sentence, it might scare you into accepting.
That is why it is crucial to have experienced legal help when facing criminal charges. Accepting a plea deal loses you the chance of defeating the charges and walking away with no sentence at all.