What is a plea bargain?

If you have been charged with a crime, you will often be told the prosecutor wants to offer a plea bargain. They are commonly used in criminal cases. According to the American Bar Association, plea bargains are used for a variety of reasons with the main intention of avoiding a trial. In addition, they may not always be offered by the prosecution, your defense attorney may also put forward a plea bargain.

In order for a plea to be accepted, both sides must agree upon the terms. It must then be presented to the judge and the judge has the final say. He or she may or may not accept the terms. If the terms are rejected, you may return to the bargaining table or proceed to trial. One exception is if a prosecutor wants to drop the charges against you. The court may not have to weigh in on that decision.

Depending on the type of crime, the victim or victim's advocates may have a right to have input on the agreement you are offered. In most cases, through, the details of the agreement are not publicly announced until you go in front of the judge.

Plea bargains are typically used to help save time and money. Going to trial requires a lot of resources, but being able to reach a plea agreement means only limited resources are used. It may also be the best option for you, especially if your attorney feels you could lose the case at trial and face a more severe punishment. This information is only intended to educate and should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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