How does a plea bargain work?

When charged with a crime, depending on how strong the state’s case against you is and the severity of the criminal offense, the prosecution may offer you a plea bargain. You may feel a sense of relief being offered a plea deal as it can result in reduced charges or a lesser sentence. However, you should not make a rash decision and accept a plea bargain until you’ve assessed all facts and available options with an experienced Rockland County Criminal Defense Attorney. In some cases, you may reach a more favorable outcome by undergoing a trial. Keep reading to discover how a plea bargain works and how it could affect your criminal case. 

What is a plea bargain?

A plea bargain is a type of agreement formed between a defendant and the prosecutor where they will reduce your charges or you will receive a more lenient sentence in exchange for pleading guilty to some or all of the charges brought against you. Typically, plea bargains are offered when the state has insurmountable evidence against you and the prosecution wants to avoid a trial. Many wonder why the prosecution would offer such a deal if they have overwhelming evidence against a defendant. However, there is a lot of uncertainty associated with the result of a trial. Ultimately, the prosecution cannot guarantee they will able to convict you as the jury can be unpredictable when determining a verdict. If the prosecution gives you a plea deal, you may be offered one of the following:

  • Charge bargaining. This type of agreement is most commonly offered by the prosecution. This deal allows you to plead guilty to a crime that is less serious than the original. Therefore, the prosecution would then be dropping the more serious charge.
  • Count bargaining. This type of agreement involves you pleading guilty to one or more of the charges in exchange for dropping the other charges you are facing.
  • Sentence bargaining. This type of agreement grants you a lighter sentence in exchange for entering a guilty plea.
  • Fact bargaining. This type of agreement is not commonly offered by the prosecution. However, it may be offered in drug trafficking cases. This deal involves pleading guilty to certain facts that prove your guilt. In exchange, the prosecution will not provide these facts during the trial.

When should I consider accepting this type of agreement?

As mentioned above, it may not be in your best interest to accept a plea bargain as the prosecution may not have as much evidence as they claim they have against you. Typically, a criminal defense attorney will only recommend accepting a plea deal if it is known for a fact that the state’s case against you is strong. In addition, you may want to consider accepting a plea bargain if you do not want to face the uncertainty associated with a criminal trial or face the costs of a criminal trial. Sometimes it is beneficial for defendants to accept a plea deal as the agreement focuses more on rehabilitation such as a diversion program. It is important to never accept a plea bargain without first speaking to an attorney as they may be able to negotiate better terms.

For more information on plea bargains, contact a skilled Rockland County criminal defense attorney. Our firm can help you determine whether accepting a plea bargain is in your best interest. Allow our firm to represent your interests today!