I was arrested for cocaine possession; should I take the prosecutor’s plea offer?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Feb 10, 2020

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Whether you should take the prosecutor’s deal depends on a number of factors. Why did the prosecution make such an offer off the bat? Is it just that they have too great a case load and the prosecutor’s office is under-staffed? Or maybe there is a problem with the prosecutor’s case against you? Perhaps the case would be thrown out on legal grounds, and so you were made this offer in the hopes that he or she wouldn’t have to lose.

Role of Prior Convictions

Another thing you have to consider is what the consequences are for prior convictions in your state? How much time can you serve if you are found in violation of probation? What are the chances of avoiding any conviction at all by trying the case? What effect will this conviction have on your immigration status? What about your ability to get a government job, get bonded, or get a professional license?

You have to consider your life and the things you want for yourself in the short term and medium term; getting a conviction of any kind on your record could carry serious consequences in this regard. For instance, you could lose your eligibility to receive public assistance or even to drive, depending on your jurisdiction’s laws. There may be programs that allow you to do drug counseling and other things in exchange for an eventual dismissal of the charges.

Do you have such a long and frequent arrest record that the prosecutor knows you will get caught again in a month and wind up doing a lot of time in jail, this time without the trouble of a trial just because you violated the probation you are about agreed to? Perhaps the police think you really are a dealer, but can’t prove it this time, and they want the right to search you, your car, and your home any time day or night. This kind of loss of rights could be a condition of your probation. 

Get Legal Help – Even When Guilty

Of course, it’s also possible that your situation is the exact reverse, and you have no record whatsoever, and the prosecutor really does want to give you a second chance. But in the event that this is not the case, hire a criminal lawyer. The issues involved are so complicated and far-reaching that, frankly, even if you want to plead guilty, you still need a criminal defense lawyer’s advice so that you know fully what you are doing.

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