Many criminal charges result in what is known as a plea bargain. In fact, about 90 percent of criminal cases result in some type of plea agreement. These agreements are made between the prosecutor in a case and that the defendant, and usually results in the defendant pleading guilty to a charge in exchange for a lesser sentence. The term plea bargain actually encompasses three different areas of negotiation. If you are facing criminal charges and are considering a plea bargain, it may be beneficial to become familiar with these different areas of negotiation.
One of the most commonly used forms of plea bargaining is that of charge bargaining. This type of negotiation involves the defendant pleading guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for fewer counts or a less severe charge at trial. When agreed upon, a prosecutor will generally dismiss the higher charges, leaving the lesser charges to stand. Like most plea bargains, charge negotiations are subject to the court approval.
Almost as common as charge bargaining is in the negotiation tactic of sentence bargaining. This type of negotiation involves the defendant pleading guilty in exchange for a lighter sentence. This type of negotiation saves the prosecution from going through a trial but may also save the defendant time behind bars.
The least common form of negotiation is that a fact bargaining. This type of negotiation involves a defendant's admission to certain truths in exchange for being allowed to omit other facts from evidence. Although this type of negotiation is not common, it is still used. Like the other two more common forms of negotiation, there must be three essential components for a plea bargain to be valid. In order for charge, sentence or fact bargaining to be valid, the defendant must know they are waiving their rights in accordance with the negotiation and do so voluntarily. Before the plea agreement, the prosecution must also have facts supporting the charges to which a defendant pleads guilty.
Fortunately for individuals facing criminal charges, there are three different forms of plea bargaining negotiations available to them. In order to successfully negotiate a plea bargain, individuals facing criminal charges may benefit by working with an experienced criminal defense attorney.