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The Basics of a Plea Bargain
A plea bargain is an agreement between a defendant and a prosecutor, in which the defendant agrees to plead guilty or no contest (nolo contendere) in exchange for an agreement by the prosecution.
How Plea Bargains Get Made
In a typical plea bargain, the defense lawyer and prosecutor confer, and one or the other proposes a deal.
The Pros and Cons of Plea Bargaining
For most defendants, the principal benefit to plea bargaining is receiving a lighter sentence for a less severe charge than might result from a conviction at trial.
Why Judges and Prosecutors Engage in Plea Bargaining
Moving cases along and locking up the truly bad actors are just two reasons why plea bargaining remains an important part of the criminal justice system.
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What Are the Different Kinds of Plea Bargaining?
There are several different types of plea bargains, which may go by the follow terms:
If I Reject a Plea Bargain and Lose at Trial, Will I Get a Harsher Sentence than the One Offered?
There is a risk that the prosecutor may end up recommending a harsher sentence than the one proposed as part of the plea bargain. Or, even if the recommendation remains the same, the judge may not follow it.
How Many Criminal Cases Actually Go to Trial?
It’s no secret that the overwhelming majority of criminal cases never reach trial.