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What Are Plea Bargains?


Around 90 percent of all criminal cases in the U.S. involve plea bargains. This is notable because many countries in the world do not allow plea bargains since those countries consider them unethical.

This blog is a short introduction into what plea bargains are and how they can be used.

What is a plea bargain?

A plea bargain is a special type of agreement where the defendant is offered a shorter sentence by the prosecutor if he or she pleads guilty. This is done to try to reach some type of agreement on the circumstances of the case.

Why are they used?

Plea bargains are mainly used to make the court process more efficient. It means that cases are resolved more quickly. Defendants can also save money because by pleading guilty and getting a reduced sentence for doing so, they do not have to defend themselves during a lengthy trial.

Plea bargains can provide some benefits to everyone; however, it can be argued that they don't prioritize justice.

What are the different types of plea bargains?

There are three main types of plea bargains:

  • Charge bargaining is the most common type. This is where the defendant pleads guilty to avoid some of the more serious charges.
  • Sentence bargaining is strictly regulated and involves pleading guilty in order to serve less time behind bars.
  • Fact bargaining is when a defendant agrees to provide certain facts in return for some information being disregarded. This is banned in many courts.

Have your case evaluated

If you are involved in criminal law plea bargain negotiations, it is important to seek legal guidance to have your case fully evaluated.

Source: FindLaw, "Plea bargains: in depth," accessed July 27, 2017