Plea Bargaining: 3 Things You Should Know If You Are Facing Criminal Charges

Posted on: 16 June 2015

According to Find Law, approximately 90% of criminal cases are closed through plea bargaining, but does this mean that a plea bargain is right for you? Before you can decide what to do, you will need to hire and talk to a criminal defense attorney. As you talk with your attorney, there are three things he or she is likely to discuss with you relating to plea bargains.

What Is a Plea Bargain?

A plea bargain is something that is used to settle a conviction without having to go through a criminal trial. There are two main types of plea bargains used, and the first one is a guilty plea. If the prosecution offers you a guilty plea bargain, it means that you will have to admit guilt to the crime you are charged with. In return for your guilty plea, you will receive a lighter charge or punishment for your crime.

The second type of plea bargain is called a no contest agreement. This means that you are not admitting guilt to the crime; however, you are also not fighting the charge with the defense that you are not guilty. You are simply agreeing to a bargain that does not require you to admit guilt or defend yourself. In return for this type of plea, you may also receive a lighter charge or punishment for the crime you are being charged with.

What Is The Alternative?

The prosecution handling the case will often offer a plea agreement simply to close the case. By doing this, the court will not have to spend time and money hearing the case, and a jury will not have to be selected. If you are not willing to accept the plea bargain that is offered to you, there is only one alternative.

You will have to go to court through a criminal trial. This is something that can be time-consuming, costly, and overwhelming. You will have to wait for a court date, which can take time, and you will also have to sit inside a courtroom for many days.

According to the Bronx Law Guide, it can take around one year from the arrest to the time of a trial. If you decide to pass on the plea bargain, you can expect to be wrapped up in this case for at least one year, but it could even be longer.

You should also realize that if you pass on the plea bargain and decide to go through a criminal trial, you will never again be able to accept the plea bargain that was offered to you. This means that your conviction, verdict, and sentencing is all left in the hands of the court. By skipping on the plea, you might end up with a punishment that is a lot worse than it would have been with the plea bargain. On the other hand, a trial could result in an innocent verdict, leaving you without any form of punishment or conviction.

Is a Plea Bargain Negotiable?

Finally, your attorney will discuss negotiations with you. The prosecution has a lot of reasons for wanting you to accept a plea bargain, and because of this they might be willing to negotiate. In other words, if you do not like every detail of the plea bargain, you can counter it. Your attorney will help you determine what to ask for and will then present it to the prosecution.

In order for any plea bargain to stick, the judge handling the case will have to approve it. Once it is approved, it will be a binding decision.

One of the best reasons not to accept a plea bargain is if you know that you are innocent and have the evidence to prove it. If this is not the case, accepting a plea bargain is often the safest route to take in a criminal case. If you have any questions about your case, talk to a criminal defense attorney today.