Plea bargaining is an important part of the trial process. It plays a practical role and helps save money, time and energy. Most criminal cases that go to court do end with a plea arrangement.
Plea agreements have a few benefits. For instance, they help lower the cost of going to court for the defendant. Additionally, defendants can protect themselves against the uncertainty of a trial and avoid harsher penalties. The court system benefits because it doesn’t have to hold a trial, making time for more important or complicated cases to be heard.
While you may think that the prosecution is the only side able to start negotiations, the reality is that anyone can seek a plea deal. The most important thing is that both sides have to agree on the charges to be set against the defendant. The defendant usually has to agree to plead guilty, but in exchange for a guilty plea, faces lesser penalties.
It’s not always a good idea to take a plea bargain. Of course, there are times when going to trial is a better option. For example, if you are innocent and have the evidence to prove it, you’re more likely to get a better deal by going to court. In many cases, you can have the entire case dropped, which helps you avoid any penalties at all.
Your attorney can talk to you more about the potential for a plea bargain and if it would be in your best interests to take a plea if offered. A plea can be a good deal, but only if you know what you’re potentially missing out on.
Source: American Bar Association, “Plea Bargaining,” accessed March 21, 2018