The Basics of Pleading To A Lesser Charge

Posted on: 8 March 2017

If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, you may already have a good idea of what you could be facing in terms of punishment after consulting with your attorney. In some cases, you may be met with a decision before your case is decided upon in court. Knowing what to do once your attorney presents you with a plea bargain can be confusing, especially when it comes at a time when you are already under a great deal of stress. Read on to learn more about plea bargains.

What is a plea bargain?

This is a legal agreement between you and the state prosecutor's office where you plea to a lesser charge in return for a certain sentence. It can potentially be beneficial to you, or not, depending on several factors, such as the evidence and the specific charges. Being presented with such a deal could prompt you to wonder why this is being offered, and well it should. You need to understand that the decision is strictly up to you and you alone, and though an attorney, like Alexander & Associates, P.C., can advise you on the potential pros and cons of taking it or not, it must be a well-thought-out decision.

Why do plea bargains exist?

The reasons for your case can be very specific, and you may never really fully understand the real motivations, but in general plea bargains are offered due to:

1. Overflowing court calendars: Defendants must be given access to a speedy trial, but in some situations the schedules of judges and prosecutors are jammed tight with no relief in sight. A plea bargain puts an immediate end to a trial with a simple appearance in court for you to state your plea, with no need for a lengthy courtroom battle. Additionally, budgeting constraints are pushing the court system to move cases along quicker and avoid trials altogether.

2. Overflowing jails: If you have been charged with a relatively minor offense, you may be offered a plea bargain in the hopes of skipping court time and clearing space in the jail. Jails are usually used to house those unable to make bail prior to their trials, and they are often bursting at the seams. Since those who finally do get sentenced will often proceed to a prison, it can help free space in the jail. A plea bargain for a lesser sentence could also mean no prison time, which helps with that situation as well.

3. Overflowing egos: If haven't considered how your case is just part of a numbers game for the prosecution, then maybe you should. A plea bargain is considered a win for the prosecution, since the alternative is a loss.

Make sure that you fully understand what your plea agreement means before you sign it by consulting closely with your defense attorney.

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