At least 90% of all criminal cases end with a defendant accepting a plea bargain deal. However, while plea bargains are very common in the American legal system, many countries don’t offer them, citing them as being unethical or immoral.
Generally, plea bargains involve a defendant pleading guilty to a crime in exchange for a lesser charge or a lenient sentence. Plea bargains tend to reflect the strength and weakness of a prosecutor’s case and are common due to overcrowded court dockets. Thus, plea bargains expedite the judicial process.
What are the different types of plea bargaining that exist?
There are three general types of plea bargaining, including:
- Charge bargaining: This involves a defendant agreeing to plead guilty to a lesser charge, for example, manslaughter instead of murder.
- Sentence bargaining: A defendant pleads guilty in exchange for prosecutors not contesting a judge’s inclination to impose a lower sentence, such as house arrest instead of probation or prison.
- Fact bargaining: This is the least common of all plea bargaining approaches. It involves a defendant pleading guilty to one offense in exchange for prosecutors not bringing certain facts to light.
Prosecutors can rescind a plea offer if a defendant fails to abide by the terms of their agreement, such as if they don’t testify against a co-defendant when they’d agreed to do so.
Might a plea deal be an option in your case?
If you’re facing criminal charges, then the prospect of your case going to trial may seem daunting to you. The likelihood of prosecutors offering you a plea deal is high, given the statistics — but you won’t get a good deal unless you know where there is room to bargain.
Ultimately, a good defense strategy can mean hoping for a plea deal while still prepping for a trial. Find out more about your available options today.