Plea bargains: an overview

When faced with criminal charges, plea bargains will likely come up during the court process. Typically, plea bargains arise before a case goes to trial.

Those facing criminal charges are often reluctant to consider plea bargains. However, there are occasions where plea bargains may benefit both the prosecution and defendant. There are several different types of plea bargains; therefore, it is important to understand the most common variations. 

Charge bargaining 

Charge bargaining is the most common form of plea bargaining. A defendant generally pleads guilty to a lesser crime as part of the charge bargaining process. Consequently, the accused party avoids going to a jury trial for more serious crimes and minimizes the chances of facing a potentially harsher sentence. 

One notable example of this relates to homicide charges. It is not uncommon for defendants to enter a guilty plea for manslaughter instead of murder. The impact of this is multifaceted. It minimizes the chances that the defendant will end up serving a lengthy prison term. It also means that prosecutors will not have to invest significant time and resources in bringing the case to court. 

Sentence bargaining 

Sentence bargaining is distinct from charge bargaining because it relates only to a defendant’s potential sentence. The initial charges remain the same in cases where charge bargaining is employed. However, there could be a significant reduction in sentencing should a defendant and prosecutors plea bargain. 

Fact bargaining 

Fact bargaining is the least common form of plea bargaining. It’s not generally favored by neither the defense nor the prosecutors. Essentially, fact bargaining amounts to the defendant accepting responsibility for some of the case’s facts on the condition that prosecutors don’t introduce other ones into evidence. 

It is important to familiarize yourself with the law on plea bargains so that you know your rights if faced with criminal charges. Being aware of the different types of plea bargains may assist you in achieving the best possible outcome in your case.