Should I Take a Plea Bargain for a Felony Charge? Pros & Cons

felony plea bargain

When you’re facing felony charges, you’re often forced to choose between two paths — accept the prosecution’s plea bargain offer or take your chances at trial in front of a judge and jury. It’s a high-stakes crossroads filled with potentially life-changing consequences.

This pivotal moment is when having a skilled Ohio criminal defense lawyer becomes invaluable. With so much on the line, you need a legal partner who can carefully weigh the pros and cons of each option for your situation. Our job is to guide you strategically toward the choice that best protects your rights and interests – whether negotiating a fair plea deal or gearing up to fight charges tooth and nail at trial.

Understanding the Plea Bargain Process

A plea bargain is an agreement between you and the prosecutor where you plead guilty to some or all of the charges. In exchange for admitting guilt, you get to resolve the case faster while potentially locking in a lighter sentence than if you went to trial and got convicted.

Plea bargains usually take one of two forms: charge bargaining or sentence bargaining.

With charge bargaining, the prosecution agrees to drop certain charges or reduce felonies down to misdemeanors if you plead guilty. For example, that felony drug possession could become a misdemeanor in exchange for your plea.

Sentence bargaining means you plead guilty to the original charge(s), but the prosecution recommends a lighter sentence – like reduced jail time, monetary fines instead of prison, or even just probation.

When Might a Plea Bargain Be Favorable?

While every case differs, plea deals can potentially benefit you if:

  • The evidence against you seems pretty stacked, lowering your chances of beating charges at trial
  • You’re a first-time offender, or the felony isn’t among the most serious
  • Taking the deal lets you plead to just a misdemeanor, avoiding a felony record
  • You may get charges completely dismissed after meeting probation terms

Even if circumstances hint a plea could be advantageous, you still need an attorney to ensure you truly receive a fair, appropriate deal for your situation.

The Pros and Cons of Taking a Felony Plea Deal

Like any major decision, accepting a plea bargain has clear upsides and downsides to weigh carefully:


  • Known sentencing instead of risking way harsher penalties after trial
  • Your case gets resolved quickly so you can move forward
  • Potential to plead down charges from a felony to a misdemeanor
  • Ability to negotiate lighter consequences like probation over jail time


  • You give up your right to a trial and any chance at walking free
  • A criminal record follows you, even if it’s reduced charges
  • The prosecution’s deal may lack sufficient leniency for your case
  • Limited ability to withdraw your plea once accepted

Factors Impacting If a Plea Deal Makes Sense

When advising clients on taking a plea or not, we consider factors like:

  • Exact charges, circumstances, and your prior criminal record
  • How strong the prosecution’s evidence stacks up against your defense
  • Your personal priorities – no jail time, keeping charges off record, etc.

For instance, if you’re a first-timer charged with a non-violent felony and the evidence is shaky, taking your chances at trial could pay off despite the gamble. But a repeat offender with overwhelming proof of guilt may jump at a plea bargain reducing jail exposure.

Bottom line – having an experienced criminal lawyer objectively assess these nuances is critical to making the right choice.

Going to Trial – When It’s the Smarter Move

While plea bargains are often viewed as the “safest” route, exercising your right to a jury trial may give you better odds if:

  • The evidence reasonably suggests you could be found not guilty
  • The proposed plea deal is outrageously harsh, and you won’t accept it
  • You have factual defenses strengthening chances of beating the charges
  • You want to preserve all rights to appeal if convicted

For sure, taking a case to trial introduces way more uncertainty and risk than plea deals. But for those convicted of innocence or utterly unacceptable deals, trial may be the only viable path.

Working With Your Criminal Defense Lawyer

As experienced Ohio criminal attorneys, our role is to ensure you make fully informed decisions, putting your interests first – not just taking the seemingly easy way out.

We’ll analyze every facet of your charges and potential sentencing ranges if convicted. From there, we’ll scrutinize the prosecution’s evidence to calculate both their chances of securing a conviction and your chances of beating those charges.

If the prosecution offers a plea agreement, we’ll negotiate aggressively to secure the maximum leniency possible for you. Should their proposal remain unfair and unjust, we’ll give you our honest assessment of why rolling the dice at trial could yield a better outcome despite the risks involved.

Likewise, if the evidence realistically points toward likely conviction, we won’t recklessly encourage trial out of ego. Instead, we’ll double down negotiating a plea deal accounting for any mitigating factors and positioning you for the most minimal sentencing available.

Whether you ultimately accept a plea or proceed to trial, our team will leave no stone unturned in forcefully advocating for your defense and rights. From motions to dismiss charges to hard-nosed trial strategies, we’ll tackle the prosecution’s case head-on to optimize the final outcome.

Your Future Starts Here With The Botnick Law Firm

Facing felony charges floods you with fear, confusion, and uncertainty about your freedom’s future. But you don’t have to navigate these choppy legal waters alone and adrift.

At The Botnick Law Firm, our singular mission is ensuring you emerge from this criminal case with the best possible resolution and outcome – nothing less. Our seasoned Ohio criminal defense attorneys have spent decades mastering expertise in felony charges. From strategically negotiating advantageous plea bargains to mounting aggressive courtroom defenses, we’ve seen and done it all.

Whether that means locking in a plea deal, getting charges dismissed before trial, or securing a hard-fought “not guilty” verdict, we’ll be your fiercest advocates until the final second. But that fight can only start by taking one first step.

If you’ve been charged with a felony in Ohio, don’t resign yourself to a worst-case scenario before discussing all your rights, options, and potential defenses with us. Take that first step by reaching out for a free, no-obligation case evaluation from our firm. We’re ready to listen, answer your questions, and map out the optimal legal path forward – because you deserve the most vigorous defense and strongest voice protecting your future every step of the way.

Author Bio

Botnick Law Firm

Robert Botnick is CEO and Managing Partner of Botnick Law Firm, a criminal defense law firm in Cleveland, OH. With more than 19 years of experience in criminal defense, he has zealously represented clients in a wide range of legal matters, including DUIs, misdemeanors, felonies, domestic violence, and other criminal charges.

Robert received his Juris Doctor from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at Cleveland State University and is a member of the Ohio State Bar Association. He has received numerous accolades for his work, including the Best DUI Lawyers in Cleveland award by

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