Being presented with a plea bargain can be very confusing. Prosecutors often present pleas when defendants feel desperate or that they are left with very few options for the future. Often, defendants face long prison terms if convicted on the original charges.
However, when you are presented with a plea bargain, it is essential that you and your criminal defense attorney take the time to consider fully the pros and cons of the plea bargain being offered. Consider whether you could get a better deal by going to trial.
The most common form of plea bargains is a charge bargain. This is where a defendant can plead guilty to a less serious charge. For example, a defendant might cop a guilty plea for manslaughter instead of going to trial for first-degree murder. This might seem like a good bargain to make, but if the defendant insists they are innocent, they may choose to take a risk and go to trial.
Sentence bargaining is also quite common. Prosecutors offer shorter sentences if the defendants do not go to trial. This can be a very tempting scenario for defendants, but if they are potentially able to prove their innocence in a trial, it might be worthwhile to roll the dice on pleading your case to the jury or judge.
Other less common forms of plea bargaining exist, such as fact bargaining where certain facts are ignored and the case can be simplified. Plea bargaining requires thoughtful consideration and legal advice — it is important not to make any rash decisions that could send you away to prison for any length of time.