Criminal cases are settled with plea bargains each day. For less serious criminal matters, plea bargaining can be a good option for defendants who want to avoid the uncertainty of going to trial and save time and money in the process.
What is a Plea Bargain?
A plea bargain, also known as a plea deal or plea agreement, is an agreement between the defendant and the prosecutor during a criminal case. The agreement essentially means that the defendant agrees to plead guilty to a particular charge, usually in exchange for a lesser punishment.
What are the Benefits of a Plea Bargain?
Plea bargaining has numerous potential benefits for everyone involved, such as:
- Saving time. When a plea bargain is reached, everyone involved generally saves valuable time and money. A lengthy trial not only takes up a lot of time but it is also expensive, so reaching a plea bargain can drastically cut down on both time and unnecessary expenses.
- Forgoing a trial. If a plea bargain is reached, then each side is spared the uncertainty that comes along with going to trial.
- Lesser punishment. The defendant can greatly benefit by entering a plea. By doing so, the defendant can potentially avoid going to trial. Forgoing a trial removes any uncertainty as to what the defendant’s punishment will be and it also removes the time and money that going to trial would cost.
Furthermore, the defendant can possibly avoid the risk of the harsher punishment they would face without the plea bargain.
How is a Plea Bargain Reached?
There is no “right” way to reach a plea bargain. In many instances, a plea bargain will begin as a discussion between what the defendant’s attorney brings up to the judge or prosecuting lawyer. In a misdemeanor case, this discussion could potentially be quick and informal. In most cases, the decision about whether or not to accept the plea deal rests within the defendant—not with the judge, contrary to common belief. The judge, however, does play a role in the plea bargaining. After a plea bargain is presented to the defendant, the plea bargain will then be presented to the judge. If a judge wishes to impose a more severe sentence, the defendant can usually withdraw his or her guilty plea. Ultimately, while it is the role of the judge to determine what the sentence is, each case will differ.
Besides opting for a plea bargain, there are numerous other alternatives that can remove less serious criminal matters from the typical processes of the justice system, such as diversion programs and probation.
While a defendant may be able to settle their criminal matters outside of a trial, it is crucial to have a team of legal professionals on your side to guide you through the process. Wading through various legal terms and justice system procedures can be confusing, so be sure to seek the appropriate help from a qualified attorney. The legal team at the Khonsari Law Group is experienced in a myriad of criminal defense cases and can help protect your rights. To learn more about the attorneys at the Khonsari Law Group, click here, or schedule a free consultation today.