A Basic Introduction To Plea Bargains

When a crime has been committed, in most cases the chances of a plea bargain being made is high. A plea bargain implies that the case does not go to trial. Instead, the accused pleads guilty and they do not contest the charges. A case going to trial often means more time spent by the court trying the case. When an accused accepts a plea bargain the court process is much simpler. Usually, a court agrees to drop a few charges in exchange for a plea bargain. A plea bargain can include a low sentencing or a probationary sentence. This is a conditional plea process. In many states, the judges do not to engage in plea bargaining.

Non-Conditional Pleas

A judge can either accept or reject a plea by a defendant. They cannot change the terms of the plea submitted by the defendant.  However, when an open plea is made, a judge can decide the sentencing term. In case the judge withdraws the sentence, the defendant can withdraw a plea. If the judge accepts the plea, the next step is for the court is judging the case.

Conditional Pleas

A number of plea bargains are conditional. The pleas are a contract between defendants and prosecution. The general contract principles govern plea bargains. Once the plea agreement is made, it is difficult for either party to back out. The exception to this is the violation of principles of the contract law. If the agreement is ambiguous or not fulfilling as per the promise, the contract is invalid. Coercion and fraudulent promises also violate the principles of contract law. The defendant can withdraw a plea within a certain amount of time with a good cause under section 1018 it the contract law.

Many believe the high plea bargain rates are due to unfairness in the court system. A prosecutor tends to charge a defendant with every possible crime to get the defendant to plea bargain. They threaten the charge of a first degree crime or a strike offense to get the defendant to plea to petty misdoings.

Why Plea Bargains Are Made

Plea bargain advocates say this process conserves the taxpayer’s money and resources. This is because if every criminal charge went to trial it would be expensive as it takes into account the salary of judges, prosecutors and also the public defenders.

A plea bargain gets a more favorable outcome than taking a case to court in front of a jury. Presenting a case to jurors is very risky and there is a higher chance of a more serious conviction.

When negotiating a plea bargain, a good defender makes a huge difference in the outcome of the sentence. A professional, licensed attorney can spot the issues with the prosecutor’s case and help negotiate better plea bargain terms. It is often the difference between receiving a  prison sentence opposed to just a probation or a fine. Contact Larsen, Larsen, Nash & Larsen today at (801) 964-1200.