Plea Bargains: What You Need to Know
After you have been arrested for a crime, you do not have to simply plead guilty or innocent to the charges; you must consider other potential opportunities to resolve the situation and one of these may be a plea bargain. This may also be referred to as a deal or a negotiated plea. This is one of the most common ways that criminal cases terminate in the state.
A plea bargain refers to an official agreement between a prosecutor and a defendant. The plea bargain requires, in most cases, that the defendant pleads guilty, no contest, in exchange for an agreement that has been developed by the prosecutor. Some of the most common plea agreements include reducing a charge to a less serious crime, recommending a specific sentence that is acceptable to the defense or dropping one or more charges. As criminal courts and jails become increasingly crowded, judges and prosecutors feel a great deal of pressure to move cases through the system quickly.
Many have found that a plea bargain is an acceptable way to do this since criminal trials can take weeks or months. Guilty pleas managed through a plea bargain can, in many cases, be arranged within minutes so long as both sides agree. Trials can also be extremely unpredictable which is often not in the best interests of the prosecution or the criminal defense side of the case. For these reasons, plea bargaining is becoming very common; more than 90% of the convictions obtained today come from negotiated pleas which explain the fact that only 10% of criminal cases will end up in trial. This makes it important to understand the pros and cons of working with a plea bargain.
It is not always recommended that you accept a plea bargain presented to you immediately. Your lawyer should carefully review it and determine whether or not the particular consequences are a better option for you than proceeding through a trial which may have an unpredictable outcome. Talking to an attorney and walking through a plea bargain or negotiating one with the prosecution is extremely valuable for protecting your rights because there’s a lot on the line when you plead guilty and no contest.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney/client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.