What is a plea bargain?

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If you have been charged with a crime, depending on the state’s case against you and the severity of the offense, the prosecution may offer you a deal whereby you must plead guilty to some or all of the charges in exchange for a more lenient sentence or reduced charges. This type of agreement is known as a plea bargain. If you are offered a plea deal, you should not accept it without first consulting with an experienced Monmouth County Criminal Defense Attorney who can help you determine if accepting a plea bargain is in your best interest. Keep reading to discover what exactly a plea bargain entails in a criminal case. 

How does a plea bargain work?

Typically, when the state has a strong case against you, the prosecutor may offer you a plea bargain which is an agreement whereby you will enter a guilty plea in exchange for reduced charges or a lesser sentence. A plea bargain can help settle the case without having to undergo a trial. This type of agreement is used in the criminal justice system to help prosecutors avoid trial, but also ensure you face some form of punishment for the crimes committed. With a trial, the prosecution has no guarantee of conviction. With this type of uncertainty, the prosecution uses plea deals to ensure you face consequences for your actions. There are different types of plea deals the prosecution may offer including:

  • Charge bargaining. The prosecution most commonly uses this type of plea bargain as it allows you to plead guilty to a crime that is less serious than the original. Essentially, the prosecutor would drop the most serious charge, which overall results in reduced charges.
  • Count bargaining. The prosecution will drop some of the charges you are facing if you plead guilty to one or more of the charges.
  • Sentence bargaining. The prosecution will grant you a more lenient sentence in exchange for entering a guilty plea.
  • Fact bargaining. This agreement involves pleading guilty to certain facts surrounding the circumstances of the crime that prove your guilt. In exchange, the prosecutor will not present these facts in court per the agreement.

Should I accept such an agreement?

In some cases, you can benefit greatly from accepting a plea bargain. However, despite having been offered this type of deal, you should never agree to it without first speaking to a qualified criminal defense attorney who can help you assess all of your available options. More often than not a criminal defense attorney can negotiate the terms of the agreement. Sometimes you are better off undergoing a trial as the prosecution may not have as much evidence as they claim against you. Additionally, your attorney may be able to file a motion to suppress certain evidence which can help your case significantly. Nevertheless, if you do not want to face the uncertainty associated with a criminal trial, accepting a plea deal may be in your best interest. Moreover, your attorney may recommend accepting this type of deal if the agreement focuses more on rehabilitation.

If you are facing a criminal trial, contact a skilled Monmouth County criminal defense attorney. Our firm will work tirelessly to help you determine whether accepting a plea bargain is in your best interest.