If you’re facing charges for a crime you didn’t commit, you certainly want to do everything possible to get the charges dropped or be acquitted if the case goes to court. In many cases, however, the person who has been arrested has some criminal culpability. If that’s the case for you, your goal is to get the best possible outcome under the circumstances.
That often involves making a plea deal with prosecutors. In fact, 90% of criminal cases are settled via plea bargaining.
Remember that prosecutors work for the government. Therefore, they have an incentive to reach a plea deal with a defendant rather than have a case go to trial. It saves the government time, money and manpower. In some cases, it also alleviates the risk that their case might not be strong enough to get a conviction.
Reduced charges and reduced sentences
Just what kinds of things can you “bargain” with prosecutors over? In most cases, it’s the charge and/or the sentence.
Prosecutors are often open to letting a defendant plead guilty to a lesser charge. This can be extremely important to a person’s future. It can mean having a misdemeanor on your record instead of a felony. It can mean not having to register as a sex offender or having a serious or stigmatizing conviction on your record.
Another subject of plea bargains is the sentence. Typically, if a charge is reduced, so is the sentence. However, even without a reduced charge, you may be able to get less time behind bars, time served, house arrest or probation – all of which can reduce the consequences of the charge on your life.
Of course, no one should try to plea bargain with prosecutors on their own. These are skilled, experienced professionals who do this regularly. With legal guidance, however, you can work toward the outcome that will best allow you to move forward with your life.