If you’re a fan of crime dramas, something you may have seen in the past is the use of a plea deal. Plea bargaining is a technique used often in the American criminal justice system.
There are a few types of bargaining that could be used if you’re accused of a crime. One is called sentence bargaining. Sentence bargaining is when you plead guilty in exchange for a lighter sentence. For example, if you plead guilty to a DUI, the prosecution may agree to seek a sentence with probation instead of prison time.
Another kind of bargaining is fact bargaining. This is the least-used kind of negotiation. With this kind of negotiation, you and your attorney agree to the admission of certain facts in exchange for leaving out some other facts in court.
A third type is charge bargaining. This is common and used often in court. This is where you negotiate for lesser charges in exchange for a guilty plea. Unlike sentence bargaining, you negotiate for a lesser sentence before pleading guilty instead of pleading guilty to the stated charge.
Plea bargaining doesn’t always happen in person, and judges aren’t usually involved. Your attorney may talk to the prosecuting attorney over the phone, for example, and never meet face-to-face. Remember, if you do accept a plea bargain, there’s no guarantee that the judge will grant it. The judge typically accepts the plea bargain if there are facts to support the charges, a knowing waiver of rights and a voluntary waiver. Your attorney can help you understand the likelihood of having a plea bargain accepted if you are considering one.
Source: FindLaw, “Plea Bargaining: Areas of Negotiation,” accessed May 18, 2017