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What is a plea bargain?

No two criminal cases unfold in the exact same manner. This holds true for many reasons. Everything from the type of crime to the location will dictate the manner in which a case moves forward.

The term "plea bargain" is thrown around by many people, however, some don't fully understand what this means. While not always true, a large number of criminal cases result in a plea bargain. This typically happens far in advance to the actual trial.

Here is a basic definition of plea bargain, as shared by FindLaw: "In a plea bargain, the defendant agrees to plead guilty to one or more charges (often to a lesser charge than one for which the defendant could stand trial) in exchange for a more lenient sentence (and/or so that certain related charges are dismissed)."

There are times when a plea bargain makes sense. For example, if a person can plead guilty to avoid the possibility of jail time, it may make sense to do so.

Conversely, this is not always the best strategy, especially if a person is adamant in the fact that they are innocent of committing a crime.

There is no way of knowing how a criminal case will work out, but one thing is almost always true: a plea bargain may be considered at some point along the way.

As somebody charged with a crime, it is important to understand the ins and outs of your case, including whether or not a plea bargain is a possibility. This may be something to consider, as there are many benefits when compared to going to trial. However, your attorney can provide more information.

Source: FindLaw, "Plea Bargain" accessed Mar. 10, 2015

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