In the American legal system, plea bargains are extraordinarily common, roughly accounting for 90% of all criminal cases. However, many countries, do not allow plea bargains and consider them immoral or unethical. This article sheds light about what plea bargains are, and why we use them. Furthermore, it also discusses different types of plea bargains, as well as possible consequences of it, if both parties do not live up to the terms coupled with the role of the criminal attorney in it.
Defining Plea Bargains
It is an agreement in a criminal case between the prosecutor and the defendant that usually involves the defendant pleading guilty to receive less punishment. It is often known as a way of establishing “mutual acknowledgment” of the case’s strengths as well as weaknesses, and do not necessarily reflect a traditional sense of “justice.”
Types of Plea Bargains
There are usually three types of Plea Bargains, which are as follows:
- Charge Bargaining
Charge bargain is the most common form of a plea bargain in which the defendant agrees to plead guilty to a lesser charge subject to the dismissal of greater charges. For example, plead to manslaughter rather than murder.
- Sentence Bargaining
It is far less common as well as more tightly controlled by charge bargaining. A bargain that requires a defendant agrees to plead guilty to the stated charges in return for a lighter sentence.
- Fact Bargaining
It is the least common form of plea-bargaining. It arises when a defendant agrees to certain facts to prevent other pieces of evidence from being introduced.
Consequences of Breaking a Plea Deal
It is a contract between the defendant and the prosecutor. Therefore, if either side fails to live up to its end of the agreement, then the court is the only option left. Parties might likely to go to court to enforce the agreement. Usually, to obtain a lesser charge a defendant is asked to do something in return. Therefore, if a defendant fails to perform his or her side of the deal, then a prosecutor can revoke the offer.
Criminal Lawyer Role in a Plea Bargain
The role of a criminal lawyer in a plea bargain is tactically vital. In a plea bargain, the attorney negotiates with the other legal team to have the possible deal with the prosecution. Nevertheless, after hiring the criminal attorney, it is very easy for the defendant to communicate its wishes with the alleged concerning lowering the possible charges or sentences.
Entering into Negotiations- A Strategic Move
It is always good to solve the issue through negotiations and avoid the legal battle. It helps in saving the time and money of both parties. Furthermore, one of the crucial areas in which a lawyer can help its client in a plea bargain is by entering into the negotiation process. For that, the prosecution needs to have a strong case to kneel the defendant to its terms and conditions. However, the case might not progress if the prosecution has a strong case, and they are sure of their win. In such a condition, the prosecution cannot go for a plea bargain with the defendant; this is where the lawyer is invaluable for the case.
Strengthening /Gathering Evidence
An upright criminal attorney always emphases on gathering/strengthening of building strong evidence, that supports the defensive strategy to help the client. Moreover, a thorough investigation into the matter normally provides more information about what happened on the site. Therefore, it is in the best interest of the client, if it provides more data to the lawyer.
Once the terms of reference (TOR) of the plea bargain are finalized with the client, it is up to this person to accept or reject it. Typically, the lawyer tries its best to urge the individual to accept the plea; else, get ready for severe sentencing that too without a plea bargain.
The Judge and the Plea Bargain
Briefly, an experienced criminal attorney helps you with plea bargains. Moreover, a public defender may initiate these negotiations; however, a hired attorney is better at completing a reasonable and successful plea bargain for the potential client in reducing possible sentencing. Therefore, if you are facing criminal charges, it is wise to contact a criminal attorney who will help you with the plea bargain negotiations with the prosecutor’s office. Moreover, there are other important discussions while going through the case, only an attorney can help you with that.
Therefore, before accepting any offer, it is critical to ensure that you have a skilled criminal defense lawyer right by your side to assist you through the process. After all, they are experienced in negotiating plea bargains all the time and advise you of likely outcomes in your case.