How Do Plea Deals Help to Resolve Criminal Cases?

Last week, we discussed the case of the former Episcopal bishop who was facing drunk driving charges. If you recall, we noted that she resolved her case through a plea deal. Almost all criminal cases, more than 90 percent of them, are resolved through plea negotiations.

Why would a plea bargain be considered?

Plea bargains are a quick way to resolve a case. These agreements between the defendant and the prosecution don't involve going to trial. These agreements are often beneficial to the defendant because it might include a charge reduction or a specific sentence. The prosecution won't have to pour resources into the case. The judge can lighten up the docket some when there is a plea bargain presented.

Can all defendants resolve their cases through plea negotiations?

Not all cases are resolved with a plea negotiation. In some cases, the prosecution or defense might not be interested in a plea deal. Some plea bargains are used to get a defendant in a case to speak out and testify against another defendant in the same case. This would allow the prosecution to get one guilty verdict in a case.

When defendants are working on a plea deal with the prosecution, they should carefully consider how the plea deal might affect them. Understanding the finer points about plea deals might help defendants facing some tough choices to decide if they are going to accept a plea deal, send in a counteroffer to the prosecution's plea deal or decline to proceed with any plea deal for their case.

Source: FindLaw, "Plea Bargain Pros and Cons," accessed Sep. 23, 2015

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