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How Are Plea Bargains Made?

Posted in Criminal Defense,Sentencing on September 24, 2020

Getting arrested and charged with a crime can be an incredibly scary experience. Those who are facing charges and their family members are often left wondering what their options are. First, it is important to understand that you need to secure a Riverside defense attorney as soon as possible. A skilled criminal attorney will be able to thoroughly review your case and determine your best options moving forward.

The vast majority of criminal cases are going to be resolved through a “plea bargain” process, often well before the criminal case reaches trial. In a plea bargain, the person charged with a crime typically agrees to plead guilty to one or more lesser charges as opposed to the one they would stand trial for. In exchange, they usually receive a more lenient sentence or have other charges against them dismissed. There are various reasons why a plea bargain may be preferable to both the defendant and prosecutors.

Why are plea bargains encouraged by the court system?

A plea bargain is generally going to be encouraged by the court system because they usually take much less time to settle, and they can help keep jails and prisons from being overcrowded. For both prosecutors and the defendant, the decision of whether to enter into a plea bargain will be based on various factors, including:

  • The seriousness of the alleged offense
  • The strength of the evidence in the case
  • The prospects of a guilty verdict should a trial proceed

How are plea bargains made?

There are a variety of ways that plea bargains are made between prosecutors and defendants in a case. First, we need to reiterate how important it is for a defendant to have a skilled attorney by their side for these cases. A lawyer will have the legal knowledge and experience necessary to examine the benefits of any proposed plea bargains.

Here, allow us to use a hypothetical situation to demonstrate how a plea bargain may be reached. Suppose Billy is arrested and charged with three counts of aggravated assault and battery after he allegedly used a brick as a weapon in a street fight. There are various ways a plea bargain may be reached in Billy’s case.

  1. The prosecutor handling the case could approach Billy and his attorney with an offer to allow Billy to plead guilty to a lesser charge. This could happen if the prosecutor believes they may not have enough evidence to convict on aggravated assault and battery. A lesser charge in this case could be simple assault or even disorderly conduct, both of which have more lenient sentences.
  2. Billy could agree to plead guilty to one count of aggravated assault and battery in exchange for having the other two counts dismissed.
  3. The prosecutors could have a very strong case against Billy, and the injuries suffered by the victims in the case may be serious. In that circumstance, Billy may agree to plead guilty to the original charges in exchange for a less severe sentence than he would likely have received should the case have gone to a full jury trial.
  4. Billy may agree to certain facts of the case, such as making threatening statements or using physical violence. In exchange, prosecutors could offer to charge him with a less serious offense. Billy’s admission would relieve the prosecution of having to prove the facts at trial, which is why they would possibly agree to the lesser charges.

This is only one theoretical scenario, and it is important to understand that every case is different. Plea bargains are usually an option for every criminal charge, but defendants must work with a skilled attorney. At the Law Offices of Graham Donath, APC, our team is ready to help you with your case. You can contact us for a free consultation or by calling as soon as possible.