You have a valid question. The effects of a plea bargain may not be worth the risk of going to trial and losing. But therein lies the rub. When many people get close to trial and realize they can take a soft plea bargain or risk state prison they plea. It's not the greatest system but it's all-American.
That is very true. Sometimes it is not in the best interest of an individual charged with a crime to take a plea deal. There can be some seriously negative consequences.
On the other side, sometimes it is in the best interest of a defendant to accept a plea bargain. What if you are doomed to loose at trial? You should try to decrease the negative impact as much as possible. Sometimes you can work out a plea to minimize some collateral consequence, like losing a drivers license, or preserve firearms rights.
There are a lot of different variables that go into making a decision in how to proceed on a criminal case. That is why it is normally a good idea to consult with a good criminal defense attorney on every criminal issue. Attorneys can help people weigh their options and put them in a place to make the best informed decision possible.
I agree with my collegues. Your question assumes that the only purpose of a plea is to limit what will show in a criminal record. There are a variety of reasons a person enters a plea. Among these are a reduced grade of charge; a reduced term of mandatory incarceration; and, a reduced fine or other financial penalty.
In addition, a plea can also have a collateral impact by reducing the period of time that a pled charge must be held on the client's criminal record before it can be expunged. For example, here in NJ, a crime has a 10 year waiting period before it can be expunged; but an offense has only a 5 year waiting period. If the plea downgrades the charge to an offense, that is a very real benefit to a client.
Hopefully this helps you understand that a plea has both direct and collateral impacts that need to be fully evaluated to see what benefit it provides the client, before the plea is accepted. Good luck.
This response does not constitute legal advice. Given the nature of this website, it does not create an attorney-client relationship. This answer is provided solely for informational purposes, for you to use as a starting point when speaking directly with a lawyer in your State. I urge you to immediately contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer admitted to practice law in your State before you make any decisions about this case.
I have never had anyone entering into a plea bargain worry about future background checks. The point of plea bargains are that:
1. it permits the guilty to plea to a lesser charge.
2. the innocent to plea to something they did not do.
Not much of a bargain for justice at large if you ask me.