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Understanding the basics of plea bargains


There are a variety of ways a criminal case may progress through the criminal justice process. One method of resolving a case is through a plea bargain. Plea bargains are a common method of resolving criminal cases in the United States. A plea bargain is an agreement between the individual accused of a crime and the prosecuting attorney in which the accused individual pleads guilty typically in order to receive a reduced sentence or reduced criminal charges. Plea bargains are primarily utilized as a method of saving time and money while resolving criminal cases.

There are primarily three types of plea bargains. First, charge bargaining involves the accused individual pleading guilty to a criminal charge for the reduction in the number of charges or nature of the charges. Secondly, sentence bargaining involves the accused individual pleading guilty to criminal charges for a reduced sentence. A judge must commonly review this type of plea bargaining which is not permitted everywhere and the judge is not bound by the plea bargain. The final type of plea bargaining is fact bargaining, which is the least common type of plea bargain, wherein an accused individual will agree to certain facts to prevent the introduction of others.

A plea bargain is an agreement that may be enforced if breached and is based on plea negotiations between the accused individual and the prosecutor. It is essential that individuals accused of a crime understand the nature of plea bargaining and are educated concerning the details of a plea bargain. It is also important for accused individuals to be aware of their criminal defense rights and the different options they may have through the criminal justice process when facing criminal charges.

Accused individuals should always be familiar with their criminal defense rights and the protections available to them through the criminal justice process. Because so much is in the line for individuals accused of a crime and facing criminal charges, it is vitally important that they understand the charges they are facing the legal options available to them.

Source: Criminal.findlaw.com, "Plea Bargains: In Depth," Accessed Feb. 15, 2017

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