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What are the benefits of plea bargaining?

Posted on in Criminal Defense

When things look grim based on the factual scenario in a criminal defendant's lawsuit, and a conviction is likely, the defendant may elect to negotiate a plea deal. Negotiating the plea, or plea bargaining, is a useful defense tactic that benefits both the defendant and the prosecution.

Let's take a look at how plea bargaining benefits both sides of the criminal defense equation:

How plea bargains help defendants

When a guilty verdict is likely in a criminal defense matter, plea bargaining offers a way for the defendant to pursue a less severe punishment and a less severe charge. This could also help the defendant's criminal record: In many cases, the defendant will have a lesser offense listed on the record. There are monetary benefits to the defendant as well because he or she will bypass the legal costs associated with lengthy trial proceedings.

It's important, however, to remind defendants that -- by accepting a plea deal -- they will be giving up their constitutional right to a criminal defense and to have their day in court. Given the potential benefits, and in cases where conviction is likely, however, a plea deal can put a defendant in a much better situation.

How plea bargains help the prosecution

Government prosecutors usually have a high caseload and they can only handle so many cases at one time. By negotiating a plea deal, the prosecution can free up its docket to resolve more cases while guaranteeing some kind of a conviction and punishment of the defendant. Prosecutors know that -- even when it looks like the defendant will lose at trial -- surprises can happen. There's always the slim chance that the prosecution will lose even what looks like a strong case. Plea bargaining is a way for the prosecution to avoid the risk of losing, and save time and save money on the costs and expenses associated with trial proceedings.

Prosecutors may have another incentive to reach a plea bargain -- to further their cases against another defendant. They might agree to give one defendant a favorable plea deal in exchange for that defendant's agreement to testify against a more important co-defendant who committed a more grave or serious crime.

Do you want to negotiate a plea bargain?

If you believe a plea bargain is appropriate in your trial proceedings, investigate as much as you can about the potential advantages and disadvantages of reaching such a deal. By reviewing your criminal defense options closely, you'll have a better understanding of the most appropriate steps to take in your criminal proceedings.

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