Plea deals, or plea bargains as they are sometimes known, play a massive role in the modern criminal justice system.

One study found that less than 10% of convictions are obtained by means other than a plea deal. So while you always have the right to a jury trial, be prepared for the prosecution trying to persuade you not to use it.

Here are some questions to consider if a prosecutor does offer you one:

What are my chances of beating the charges?

Many people never find out whether they can walk away with their innocence confirmed because they never try to contest the criminal charges they face. There are many ways to challenge charges, even if you actually committed the crime, as the prosecution says.

What are the consequences of accepting it?

If you accept a deal, you plead guilty. Therefore you must be prepared to accept the sentence. Do not underestimate prison time. It can have a massive traumatic effect on you and your family. You could suffer serious physical or mental harm inside, especially if the inmates or guards take a particular offense to your alleged crime.

You also need to understand that a criminal record can limit your ability to apply for jobs, volunteer posts and even housing and education opportunities.

Getting accurate legal advice will be crucial if you face criminal charges. Even if you decide a plea deal is your best option, there may still be the chance to fight for a better one. Only by understanding all the options can you choose the most suitable one for your particular circumstances.