April 26, 2022 By Paul Wallin

4 Reasons You Should Not Accept a Plea Bargain at Your First Court Appearance

At Wallin & Klarich, we have 40+ years of experience defending our clients from criminal charges in and out of the courtroom. We have found that it is very common for people to want to end their case as soon as possible, even if it means they do not obtain the best outcome in their case. Although plea bargains are not always bad, you should seldom accept a plea bargain that is offered to you at the first court date. 

In essence, a plea bargain is an agreement that you and the prosecutor reach as to the “value” of your case. By accepting an offer from the prosecutor you are agreeing that your case is worth what the prosecutor thinks it is worth. The problem with accepting such an offer is that you are likely as the defendant have no idea what your case is “worth”. This is why before you consider accepting a “plea bargain” you need to have the guidance of an experienced criminal defense law firm like Wallin and Klarich.

By accepting a plea bargain without the legal guidance of an experienced criminal defense law firm you are giving up the opportunity that one of the following four results could have happened in your case. 


A case can be dismissed for a variety of reasons. If evidence was obtained in your case in an unlawful manner or your legal rights were violated during the arrest, your case could possibly be dismissed. A dismissal of a criminal case is more common than you might think. Accepting a plea bargain at your first court hearing means you will give us the chance for your case to be dismissed.

Lesser charges

In a high percentage of criminal cases, when you hire a criminal defense attorney to represent you a plea bargain can occur which results in the criminal charges you were facing being reduced to a lesser charge. This can mean that you do no jail time and possibly have no probation or a shorter period of probation than would otherwise occur if you accept the prosecutors’ initial offer at your first court hearing.

Court-appointed programs

In many cases, your criminal defense lawyer can convince the prosecutor to agree to allow you to attend certain programs as a way of lessening your charges. Examples can include community service, counseling, anger-management programs or substance-abuse programs. By accepting an early plea, you are likely giving up the chance of obtaining one of these programs which could have resulted in your case being dismissed or your punishment lessened. 

Not guilty verdict

You may not be guilty of any crime. Without having a criminal defense lawyer review your case you will never know if you would have been convicted at all.

In fact, it takes all 12 jurors to agree that you are guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt” before you can be convicted of any crime. Pleading guilty at your first court hearing means you are giving up the right to contest the charges.

How Long Do You Have to Accept a Plea Deal? 

For most plea deals, the defendant has a few months to accept or reject the deal from the date the deal is offered. However, it is common for the prosecutor to allow extensions. While the plea offer is pending, the court case will proceed. Consult with your attorney to decide whether accepting a plea deal is the right choice for you and, if so, when you should do so.

As you can see from the examples above it is a very good idea for you to consult with an experienced criminal lawyer before accepting any plea bargain offered by the prosecutor in your case. An attorney will be able to tell you if the plea bargain is in your best interest as well as inform you of all of the other alternatives potentially available in your case. 

Call us today, toll-free at (877) 466-5245 for a free consultation with one of our highly-skilled attorneys. We have 40+ years of criminal defense experience helping people just like you obtain the best result possible in their criminal cases. We would love to help in your case so you do not make a mistake that you could likely regret if you accept the first offer that the prosecutor makes to you in your case. 

We will be there when you call.  

AUTHOR: Paul Wallin

Paul Wallin is one of the most highly respected attorneys in Southern California. His vast experience, zealous advocacy for his clients and extensive knowledge of many areas of the law make Mr. Wallin a premiere Southern California attorney. Mr. Wallin founded Wallin & Klarich in 1981. As the senior partner of Wallin & Klarich, Mr. Wallin has been successfully representing clients for more than 30 years. Clients come to him for help in matters involving assault and battery, drug crimes, juvenile crimes, theft, manslaughter, sex offenses, murder, violent crimes, misdemeanors and felonies. Mr. Wallin also helps clients with family law matters such as divorce and child custody.

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