A study by the group Human Rights Watch indicates that only 3% of defendants in federal drug cases are going to trial – the rest are agreeing to plea deals with the prosecution. In a plea deal, you agree to plead guilty and the prosecuting attorney agrees to a specific sentence/punishment for the crime. Most criminal cases nationwide are handled this way, because it saves the prosecutor time and money and results in what is likely a reduced sentence for the defendant. However, plea agreements are not always beneficial for the defendant.
If you’re facing federal drug charges in Minnesota, we recommend consulting with a Minneapolis criminal defense attorney. There are many reasons defendants mostly plead guilty in these cases, and while sometimes it is the best choice, it isn’t always. An experienced criminal attorney can help assess whether you should take a plea deal.
According to the Human Rights Watch study, there is an 89% conviction rate for those who go to trial, and because of mandatory minimum sentences, any person convicted at trial of drug offenses will face more prison time. So there are some good reasons to take a plea deal, especially if you have a weak case.
Sometimes truly innocent people are accused of committing crimes. This often occurs because of mistaken eyewitness identification and is less likely in drug-related crimes than in violent crimes which are more likely to rely on eyewitness testimony. However, law enforcement can still make mistakes. If you’re innocent of the crime of which you’re accused, it’s much less likely that taking a plea will be a good idea. For one thing, the evidence against you is likely weak and can be discredited by a good defense attorney. Also, if you do plead guilty, you are agreeing under oath that you committed the crime. If you do this, it severely limits your future legal options.
We do recommend that you hire a defense attorney well before the prosecutor has a chance to offer a plea. Ask for an attorney as soon as you’re arrested. If you’re facing state or federal criminal charges in the state of Minnesota, contact us for a consultation.