List of Pros and Cons of Plea Bargaining
Facing criminal charges is never an easy thing to do. Being faced with a crime, regardless of your innocence or guilt, can be a tough and trying time for anyone. If you are facing charges and know that you will be found guilty or have admitted to being guilty, the primary thing that many defendants will want to talk to their attorney about is a plea bargain agreement. Plea bargain agreements are used to try and minimize the potential of the penalty that you will face for being found guilty or for admitting your guilt. In most cases, a plea bargain agreement is frowned upon, but what most people don’t know is that approximately 85 percent of convictions come through with a plea bargain agreement between the parties.
A plea bargain agreement is an agreement made between the prosecuting attorney and the defendant and their attorney. Plea bargain agreements can be made before a trial begins or while one is in progress (at the discretion of a judge). When entering into a plea bargain agreement, the prosecuting attorney offers the defendant a change to plead guilty to a lesser charge or may offer them to plead guilty to the original charge with the recommendation of less than maximum penalty from a judge. One of the most common examples of this is when a defendant pleads guilty to a misdemeanor charge over a felony charge. Another example is both parties agreeing to a less than maximum term for pleading guilty (such as agreeing to five years instead of 10 years for a case).
There are many pros and cons when it comes to considering a plea bargain agreement and you should weigh each of them carefully before deciding which is better for you. Many factors should be taken into consideration, such as the facts that both sides are presenting, whether or not you are pleading guilty, and your attorney should also take into account the publicity of the case.
The Pros of Plea Bargaining
1. The biggest argument in favor of a plea bargain agreement is that the defendant has a chance to receive a less than maximum penalty for the crime that was committed.
2. Using a plea bargain agreement can take away from the uncertainty of a verdict in the defendant’s favor during a trial.
3. When it comes to the societal impact, plea bargain agreements can mean that less taxes are pulled for a case, and that people are not inconvenienced by being pulled for a jury panel. This reduces the time it takes for a case to make it through the court system, allowing for less resources to be expended per case.
4. Plea bargain agreements also allow more prosecutors the ability to handle more cases if they aren’t tied up with each one for too long. The same goes for public defenders.
5. Judges are well aware of the overcrowding in the jails and use plea bargain agreements as a means to keep the over population at some form of a minimum.
6. Plea bargain agreements are often used when there is more than one defendant in the hopes that the truth against the other defendant comes out.
7. These kinds of agreements can be used for one or multiple charges in one case but separate agreements will need to be sought for more than one case.
The Cons of Plea Bargaining
1. One of the largest cons against a plea bargain agreement is that someone who is innocent might plead guilty to avoid a trial wherein they could be found guilty wrongly and sentenced to the maximum penalty.
2. Many law enforcement officials (including judges) believe that an increased use in plea bargain agreements has hindered the results of investigations, sighting a guilty plea as their reason to stop working.
3. Plea bargain agreements that are rendered based on the last point have made society feel that the facts surrounding the case become less important when the legal consequences are reduced.
4. It has also been argued that plea bargain agreements take away a defendant’s right to a trial by jury, but at the same time it is argued that they are still getting their right to a speedy judgment.
5. When one defendant in a co-defendant case accepts a plea deal in exchange for information against a co-defendant, the safety of the defendant or their attorney may be called into question.
6. A plea bargain for one case does not mean that you have the same agreement for another case down the road or another case that is being tried against you at the same time.
Once a plea bargain agreement has been reached, both sides will need to draw up and sign the plea bargain agreement that is clearly stated to the court and with a judge’s approval, it will be entered. Both sides are legally bound to all the terms and conditions of the agreement and must agree to the disposition of the case once the agreement has been signed. Should a defendant go against the terms and conditions of a plea bargain agreement, the agreement may be rendered null and void by a judge, the case may be tried, and no further plea bargain agreement agreements may be offered to the defendant.
While a plea bargain agreement may be the best chance for a defendant, every aspect of a plea bargain agreement should be thought through carefully and talked through with an attorney. It is important that both sides weigh their options and the ramifications before proceeding. Defendants should also consider the ramifications of a plea bargain very carefully before entering into one.