A plea bargain is an offer from the prosecution to the defendant in a criminal matter to settle the case. Commonly, the defendant will agree to plead guilty or accept the charges brought against him in exchange for a lighter or reduced sentence.Get Help Now
Why Allow Plea Bargains?
The use of a plea bargain gives the prosecution an important strategic tool to use if they are unsure that they will be able to get a guilty verdict. Plea bargains are also used as an incentive to get the defendant in one case to testify against a defendant in another case. Plea bargains may be offered at any time prior to or during a trial. As such, they are an important part of the criminal justice process.
Plea bargains promote an efficient justice system. Typically, most prosecutors are put under pressure to clear their docket as quickly and judicially as possible. As such, prosecutors rely heavily on plea bargains as a tool to clear their docket. By allowing prosecutors to make deals with defendants, the judicial system’s already overburdened docket is saved from hearing cases where the outcome is uncertain. Additionally, plea bargains give both prosecutors and defendants more control over their cases, knowledge of the outcome of their cases, and produce results which both parties can live with. Because of this, the majority of criminal convictions are a result of some form of plea bargain or negotiation.
Negative Aspects of Plea Bargains
Typically, plea bargains are seen as a more positive outcome for a case as opposed to a trial. This is due to the potential leniency plea bargains produce and their predetermined outcome. However, critics claim that plea bargains undermine the justice system since they allow defendants to get reduced sentences through secret negotiations with prosecutors. Although this may be true, proponents of plea bargaining point to the efficiency that plea bargains provide and the benefit of obtaining cooperation from the defendants and reducing the risk of the defendant getting away with the alleged crimes. Critics also argue that most defendants only consider the immediate payoff of a plea bargain and don’t think about the later consequences of accepting a conviction. Because of this, less educated defendants could be taken advantage of by the prosecution. However, just because a defendant may be offered a plea bargain does not mean that the defendant must accept that plea bargain. If the defendant believes he stands a better chance at trial, the defendant has every right to a trial on the charges.
Consequences of Plea Bargaining
Many defendants don’t think of the future consequences when accepting a plea bargain. Since most plea bargains require defendants to either plead guilty or accept the charges, this creates a conviction on the defendant’s criminal record. As such, after obtaining a criminal record, defendants may lose some of their civil rights or privileges, like the right to vote, because of their criminal record. Because of this, it is always important for the defendant to consider all the facts and ramifications of a plea bargain before accepting one.
Should I Accept My Plea Bargain Offer?
Whether or not you should accept a deal in a criminal proceeding is a complex question. There are many factors to consider that will determine the value of an offer extended to you by the District Attorney or other official, including the nature of your charges. You should always consult with a defense attorney that is familiar with the facts of your case and has experience in the County or court where you are being charged before making a decision or acting pro se. In fact, in most misdemeanor and felony cases, a judge will direct you to retain legal counsel before moving forward with a decision. Failure to resolve a case through plea bargain negotiations will usually require that the case be taken to trial.
Contact An Attorney
If you or someone you know is faced with a legal issue, large or small, contact Minick Law, P.C. Our attorneys have experience throughout the state of North Carolina and offices in Asheville, Charlotte, Gastonia, and Waynesville, for your convenience.
James Minick is founder and C.E.O. of Minick Law, P.C. James is committed to providing top notch legal services through his team of highly specialized legal professionals. James will defend your rights.