A plea bargain is an agreement made between the accused’s attorney and the court that will benefit both sides in some way. In most cases, the defendant will plead guilty to a crime in exchange for a lighter sentence. The most common form of a plea bargain is for a defendant to plead guilty to a lesser charge to get probation or a limited jail sentence.
Why Do Plea Bargains Exist?
One of society’s unfortunate realities is that the court system is not equipped to have a trial for every case on the books. Plea bargains allow the attorneys and representatives of the court to agree to a sentence without actually bringing the case to trial. Without plea bargains, the entire judicial system would be overwhelmed and ineffective.
Avoid Extensive Attorney’s Fees
Every hour in court is another hour an attorney charges to a defendant’s account. Legal fees are extremely expensive, and if a defendant can negotiate a good plea bargain and save a considerable amount of money on attorney’s costs, then that is definitely worth looking into. A plea bargain can also save the court time and money by avoiding the extensive costs that go into actually putting on a trial.
Enhance The Effectiveness Of Prosecutors
Many cases that get logged into a criminal court really do not need the services of a prosecutor. Minor infractions and lesser charges will wind up taking up a prosecutor’s valuable time and diminishing the effectiveness of the prosecutor’s performance. Plea bargaining allows cases to be completed without the prosecutor, which frees the prosecutor up to focus on the larger cases.
A Trial Can Be Unpredictable
A plea bargain focuses mostly on negotiating a charge and penalty that both sides can agree with. While the facts in the case are definitely used in the process, those facts are not scrutinized as closely as they would be in a trial. Many defendants want to avoid a trial because anything can happen when a case goes to open court. Instead of putting an unpredictable trial process in charge of a defendant’s fate, the defendant will often choose to plea bargain instead.
Waiting For A Trial Can Take A Long Time
If a defendant is in a situation where they have to be held in prison while awaiting trial, then a plea bargain might look like a good option. While time spent waiting for a trial is usually converted to time served after the punishment is determined, most defendants would rather just get right to serving their sentence and get it over with. In this instance, a plea bargain can hurry up the process and avoid extended time in jail wondering what is going to happen.
It is estimated that more than 90 percent of all criminal cases result in guilty pleas. If defendants are prepared to pay their price to society for their crime and want to avoid the long process of a trial, then a plea bargain can be a way to shorten the process and avoid the unpredictable nature of the justice system.