Many criminal cases never go to trial because the defendant and the prosecutors make a plea deal. This can have advantages for both sides. It saves a person from putting their freedom in the hands of a jury, and it lets prosecutors obtain a “win” without the time and expense of a trial and having to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Plea bargaining can involve one or more areas of negotiation. Let’s take a look at the two most common.
This is probably the most common. It’s where a defendant pleads guilty to a lesser charge than they’re facing in return for a more serious charge (and perhaps additional charges) being dismissed. We see this all the time on shows like Law & Order.
This is where prosecutors offer a shorter or lighter sentence for the crime they’re charged with if the defendant pleads guilty. It can sometimes save a person from having to face additional prison time or any time behind bars at all. They may just get probation or time served.
The judge and the defendant have a say
It’s important to know that while prosecutors can plea bargain with a defendant and their attorney, any plea deal that’s made has to be agreed to by the judge. In most cases, judges will accept the deal that’s been reached.
Plea bargaining is never something that a person should attempt on their own. An experienced criminal defense attorney can negotiate with the prosecutors to get the best possible deal for their client. The defendant ultimately has a right to accept the deal or move forward to trial, but an attorney can help every defendant understand their unique situation.