Did you know that over 90% of all criminal cases are settled by plea bargaining, not by trial?
What is a plea bargain?
A plea bargain is essentially a negotiation between the defendant and prosecutors. The defendant agrees to plead guilty to a crime in exchange for a lighter sentence, other charges being dropped, or another arrangement that benefits them.
Who does plea bargaining benefit?
Plea bargaining benefits both parties.
Benefits for the prosecutors involve:
- Saving time
- Avoiding a potentially lengthy trial
- Lighter workload
- Potentially gaining assistance from the defendant for other, bigger cases
Plea bargaining benefits the defendant by:
- Potentially saving them from serving jail time or serving a shorter period of time
- Avoiding the mental trauma of a trial
- Avoiding the publicity of a trial
- Less uncertainty about what their outcome will be
Can you reverse your guilty plea?
No, you cannot plead not guilty after accepting a plea bargain. This is one of the risks of accepting these deals. When you plead guilty, it makes it harder to appeal your sentence. You may also be unable to get your record expunged since you technically plead guilty to the offense.
Is everyone offered a plea bargain?
No, not everyone is offered a plea bargain. There is no requirement to give people this option.
How does plea bargaining affect your rights?
You voluntarily give up your right to a jury trial when you accept a plea bargain. You also waive your right to protection from self-incrimination and your right to confront witnesses.
For some, the benefits of a plea bargain are plenty of justification to surrender these constitutional rights.
How can a defense lawyer help with plea bargaining?
If you have already decided you want to take a plea bargain, you should still work with a criminal defense attorney. An experienced lawyer can negotiate on your behalf and get you the best possible outcome.
If you have recently been arrested and are now facing criminal charges, Hager & Schwartz, P.A. can help. Whether your case moves forward through plea bargaining or goes to trial, we can defend you each step of the way.