If you’re involved in a criminal case, you might have encountered the term “plea bargain” or “plea deal” but might not be too familiar with this concept or what it means to you. Essentially, a plea bargain is an offer the prosecuting attorney will make to settle your case out of court. It requires that you plead guilty to the original charge or some other charge. Roughly 90% of criminal cases are resolved this way.
Typically, a plea bargain is made after your lawyer has had a chance to review the evidence and negotiate a deal based on the facts.
What Types of Plea Bargains Are There?
Depending on your case, the prosecuting attorney might make one of two kinds of deals.
The first is a charge bargain. This is where the prosecutor offers to allow you to plead guilty to a lesser offense, which would mean you may be subject to reduced penalties. If you were charged with multiple crimes, the prosecutor might offer a deal where you plead guilty to only some of them.
The second type of plea deal is a sentence bargain. In this situation, the prosecutor would recommend a sentence that’s less severe than the one you’d face if you did not make a deal.
Whether the prosecutor offers a charge or sentence bargain, the judge has the final say, meaning they must approve whatever deal was made.
Why Does the Prosecutor Offer a Plea?
Several reasons exist as to why a plea bargain will be made. One is that it clears up the court docket, relieving the strains on an already strapped judicial system. Courts handle numerous cases every month. Each requires several people to be involved, including judges, prosecutors, officers, and juries (for jury trials). Thus, every criminal matter handled in court costs quite a bit. Put simply, settling a case through a plea deal is less time-consuming and costly than going to trial.
Another reason a prosecuting might offer a plea is to increase the chances of getting a guilty verdict in another case. For instance, if you are involved in a matter with multiple defendants, the prosecutor might make a deal where you plead guilty to lesser charges in exchange for providing testimony against one of the other defendants.
What Plea Deal Will I Be Offered?
The deal the prosecutor and your lawyer negotiate depends on the facts of your case. If the prosecutor decides that sufficient evidence exists to obtain a conviction, they might proceed to trial and not make an offer.
However, if your attorney spots and points out weaknesses in proof and how such would make it difficult to convince a judge or jury of your guilt, the prosecutor may negotiate a plea bargain.
When determining what to offer, the prosecutor will consider many factors, including:
- The severity of the alleged offense
- The current penalties for the crime
- The risk of your reoffending
- The evidence against you
Because every case is unique, there isn’t only one set deal the prosecuting attorney will offer.
Should I Accept a Plea Deal?
Whether or not you should agree to what the prosecutor offers depends on your case. Your attorney should thoroughly review the facts and determine the strength of evidence against you.
When you accept a plea deal, you lose your right to trial. Thus, you want to make sure that the bargain truly serves your best interests and is more beneficial than what you could have expected had your case gone to court.
Before accepting a plea deal, speak with your attorney. They can help you understand what you’re getting and what you’re giving up.
At Rion, Rion & Rion, we have over 80 years of combined experience and have tried over 500 jury trials. If a misdemeanor or felony case can be settled through a plea deal, we pursue that option. But we’re also ready to seek a favorable outcome through litigation.
To schedule a free case evaluation in Dayton, call us at (937) 223-9133 or contact us online.