Most of us have heard the term plea bargain but may have wondered exactly what it refers to and what different types of plea bargains might be available. In general, plea bargaining is a method of reducing charges or potential penalties through an agreement between the accused individual and the prosecutor prosecuting the case. There are generally three types of plea negotiations, including charge plea bargaining, sentence plea bargaining fact plea bargaining.
One type of plea bargaining is charge bargaining which results in the accused individual pleading guilty to a reduced charge rather than a more serious charge. Sentence bargaining is another type of plea bargaining that involves agreeing to plead guilty for a reduced sentence. Fact bargaining is a little less common and involves an agreement to stipulate to certain facts so others will not be presented.
In general, plea bargains must be knowing and voluntary to be valid which means that the accused individual must understand the plea bargain, know what they are doing and voluntarily enter into the plea bargain. Plea bargains are one element of the criminal justice system that can be useful but it is important for accused individuals to know what criminal defense options and responses are available to them and which are best for their circumstances and situation.
There are a variety of criminal defense options that also include challenging the facts or evidence being used against the accused individual and the development of a strong criminal defense strategy is always important. Accused individuals should be familiar with their criminal defense rights and how to use them when their freedom and future are being threatened by criminal charges.
Source: Criminal.findlaw.com, "Plea Bargaining: Areas of Negotiation," Accessed Jan. 25, 2017