In some cases, the best legal outcome in your case means that you enter into a deal with the prosecutor for lesser charges or a reduced sentence. For some defendants, it is the best way to put the matter behind them and move on with their life. It’s important to understand that in some cases, a plea bargain may still result in a criminal conviction on your record. One of your major considerations going forward is how the plea deal will impact your future. With that in mind, a frequent question we are asked is whether a plea deal will stay on your record.
Plea Deals Still Result in Convictions
The answer depends on the individual offense. While plea deals operate in the same general way, not all deals are equal. Some crimes are more serious than others. The general response is that a guilty conviction that results from a plea deal is treated the same as a conviction that results from a jury trial unless there is some special deal with the prosecutor that completely drops the charges. You will end up with a criminal record. After all, a plea deal is an agreement between you and the prosecutor. They are getting something too.
A plea bargain is one step in the process of your criminal case. It is not the end of the process. That comes when you go in front of a judge and inform them how you plead in the case. You could plead not guilty, guilty, or no contest. If you plead not guilty, you will go to trial for the prosecutors to try to prove their case. A guilty plea skips the trial and goes straight to the judge for sentencing.
Sometimes, a Plea Bargain Results in the Best Outcome
A guilty plea just waives your right to contest the charges. Nonetheless, you may have very valid reasons for accepting a deal. If you end up facing a jury, you will likely end up with a longer prison sentence if you are convicted. You could face more serious charges unless you agree to a plea deal. Usually, the deal ends up benefiting you because you get a lesser sentence, and it helps the prosecutor who wins a conviction without expending the resources for a trial.
Nearly every defendant who is convicted ends up with a criminal record. That is not something that should be taken lightly, although that should not be the only consideration in discussing your legal options. Your criminal record is exactly that; it is a record of your convictions, no matter how they come about.
Your criminal defense attorney may be able to negotiate with the prosecutor to obtain a deferred prosecution agreement for you. This allows prosecutors to eventually drop the charges against you when certain conditions are fulfilled. When that happens, you end up with no conviction or criminal record.
Future Expungement Can Be an Option Depending on the Circumstances
Depending on the conviction, it may not stay on your record permanently. In fact, that is one of the benefits of a plea deal. Wisconsin offers defendants the ability to have their conviction expunged if the crime was committed when they were under the age of 25 and if it was one of a certain class of felonies. The state legislature is considering criminal justice reform that may allow for additional relief for defendants in the future.
How a Criminal Record Can Impact Your Life
Having a criminal record going forward is a major consideration for a defendant when deciding what to do in their case. While Wisconsin protects many people convicted of a crime from employment discrimination, many professional fields may not hire people convicted of a crime. Here are some other areas where a conviction can affect your life:
- Your right to own a firearm
- A child custody case
- Your ability to obtain a security clearance
- Holding certain professional licenses
- Problems renting an apartment
- Immigration consequences
There are valid considerations on each side. You may find it necessary to fight the charges because you are innocent, or law enforcement has made mistakes that have violated your rights. On the other hand, you may not want to run the risk of being convicted in a trial because the judge could impose the maximum sentence. An attorney familiar with the criminal justice system can evaluate your case and inform you as to the possible outcomes and your options.
Don’t Turn Down a Plea Deal Just Because it Results in a Criminal Record
It may make sense to accept a plea deal in your case because the outcome could be far worse. Just know that you will likely end up with a criminal record. In some cases, that is the best possible outcome. You should make sure before you accept the plea deal that it is the best result for you.
Our attorneys will help you look at the entire picture. When you are facing criminal charges and caught up in the moment, it may be difficult to see all the considerations involved. Some people are so worried about having a criminal record that they end up passing on a good deal from the prosecutor that could greatly minimize their potential penalties. Others may rush to a plea deal, not knowing what it could do to the rest of their lives. You need an attorney who can see all sides and objectively explain the pros and cons of each option.
Experienced Appleton Criminal Defense Lawyers
If you have been charged with a crime, you need legal help and fast before you make any mistakes or choices that could affect your legal rights. The attorneys at Hogan Eickhoff are levelheaded and sensible attorneys who can help you evaluate all options. Contact us today at (920) 450-9800 to schedule your free consultation. We are standing by and ready to speak with you about your situation.