How does a plea bargain work?

lawyer attorney with client

When facing harsh penalties for a crime, you may feel overwhelmed and out of options. If the state has a strong case against you, they may offer you a plea deal. This can result in reduced charges or a more lenient sentence. However, in exchange, you will be required to plead guilty to some or all of the charges brought against you. Plea bargains offer several benefits but in some cases, it is better to decline a plea deal or have an attorney negotiate the terms for a more favorable outcome. You shouldn’t make rash decisions before discussing your options with a determined Camden County Criminal Defense Attorney. 

What is a plea bargain?

Depending on the severity of the crime committed and how strong the state’s case is against you, the prosecution may offer you a plea bargain. Essentially, a plea bargain is an agreement between the defendant and the prosecutor. In this agreement, the defendant receives reduced charges or a lesser sentence in exchange for a guilty plea to some or all of the charges. The prosecution can offer you different plea bargains. The following are different kinds of plea bargains:

  • Charge bargaining. This type of plea deal is most commonly offered to defendants. If you plead guilty to a crime less serious than the original crime, the prosecution will then drop the most serious charge. Essentially, this allows you to receive reduced charges.
  • Count bargaining. This type of plea deal allows the prosecution to convict you of one or more of the original charges, however, the rest are dropped.
  • Sentence bargaining. This type of plea deal allows you to take a guilty plea for a lesser sentence.
  • Fact bargaining. This type of plea deal allows you to plead guilty in exchange for only certain facts being presented in court.

If the prosecution offers you a plea bargain, it is critical to discuss your available options with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you understand if accepting a plea bargain is in your best interest.

When should I consider accepting a plea deal?

When charged with a crime, if the protection offers you a plea bargain, you do not have to agree to it. You should work with your defense attorney to determine if accepting a plea deal is in your best interest. Typically, defendants feel they have to accept this type of deal to reach reduced charges or a lesser sentence. However, in some cases, you may be better off undergoing a trial as the prosecution may not have enough evidence to convict you. The prosecution usually offers plea bargains because, during a criminal trial, there is no guarantee they can convict you. Moreover, you should only consider accepting a plea deal if you know the state’s case against you is strong, the deal focuses on rehabilitation, you would rather face a lighter sentence, the deal significantly reduces the charges, or you do not want to risk uncertainty associated with a criminal trial. Nevertheless, you should not accept a plea deal without first evaluating all of your options with a qualified defense attorney as they may be able to negotiate the plea bargain terms to reach a favorable outcome.

For more information, contact a skilled Camden County criminal defense attorney. Our firm will work tirelessly to help you determine whether accepting a plea bargain is most beneficial for your situation.

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