Understanding how plea bargains work

Many criminal cases do not end up going to trial. Instead, a fairly common resolution is the plea bargain. Here, the person facing criminal charges (the defendant) reaches a deal with the prosecution to plead guilty to some or all of the charges against them in return for some form of leniency.

Plea bargains are an essential component of the criminal justice system despite reservations from some quarters. Without plea bargains, more cases would advance to trial and courts could become even more overwhelmed than some already are.

What deal are you likely to get?

The kind of plea deal the prosecution will offer depends greatly on the individual circumstances of your case. There are various types of plea bargains, as explained below.

You may get a deal to plead guilty to lesser charges than what you were initially facing. Alternatively, the prosecution may offer you a lesser sentence for the charges against you, but only if you plead guilty. Another deal you may get involves admitting to specific facts of your case. In exchange, the prosecution will not introduce other evidence into your case.

Should you accept or reject a plea deal?

Plea deals may sound convenient and attractive at first glance. However, they are not designed to be an easy way out, and you should not rush to accept a plea bargain simply because the prosecution has offered one. The decision to accept or reject a plea deal depends primarily on the strength of the prosecution’s case against you and your chances at trial.  Each case is different, and the ultimate decision whether to accept an offer from the State rests with the Defendant.

It may not be easy to ascertain that, and you may need to get an informed assessment of your case before making the call. The proper legal counsel will also help protect your rights and represent your interests should your case proceed to trial.

Attorney Brad Hawley

Attorney Brad HawleyAttorney Brad Hawley possesses years of practical experience focused on bankruptcy, civil and criminal defense. He has prosecuted and defended clients in state court, and is a former enlisted member of the United States Army. Brad is driven by his desire to help people that have been hurt by the legal system, and is dedicated to fixing injustices he sees around him. [ Attorney Bio ]

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