Criminal Defense

What is a Plea Bargain?

Plea BargainMany people believe that every criminal case must inevitably lead to an expensive trial after which the defendant will either walk free or remain to face the consequences. In actuality, about 90 percent of Nevada residents facing such charges never see the inside of a courtroom, preferring instead to resolve the situation through a far less onerous plea bargain. What exactly does a “plea bargain” mean, and why do they choose to do that?

Top Reasons for Signing a Plea Agreement

If the circumstances of your criminal case make a finding of guilty inevitable, your agreement to sign a plea bargain can often reward you with a more satisfactory outcome. The decision of whether to do this will require a weighing of:

  • The severity of your alleged crime.
  • The strength and weight of the evidence against you.
  • The odds against your walking free out of a court of law.

Given today’s overburdened court dockets and increasingly crowded jails, the United States court system encourages the practice of plea bargaining to ease the strain on an already overwhelmed legal system.

Plea Bargaining’s Benefit to the Defendant

By negotiating a plea bargain, you are by definition admitting to guilt. Nevertheless, the remedy often makes sense for several reasons. In addition to avoiding the time, expense, uncertainty and exposure that can easily result if your case should go to trial, you might:

  • Face a lighter punishment.
  • Entirely dodge a jail sentence.
  • Enjoy a reduction of the charges against you.
  • Dampen any damaging publicity.
  • Resolve the matter in a timely fashion.

Most people will cite one of the above benefits as their major justification for agreeing to sign a plea bargain.

Plea Bargains From the Prosecution’s Point of View

Regardless of what type of case they try, all prosecutors have one ultimate goal in mind. They aim to win a conviction. If they should find themselves forced to argue their position at trial, they have no assurance that the outcome will be in their favor. On the other hand, once they’ve obtained a signed plea bargain, they can chalk up that coveted win without needing to set foot in a court of law.

Plea Bargaining Negotiations

When considering the terms of any plea agreement, the prosecution and the defense will normally concentrate on one of four major areas of negotiation. These are:

  • The charge. In this commonplace form of plea bargaining, the defendant agrees to plead guilty to a lesser charge than the one he faced originally.
  • The count. Similar to charge bargaining, this version allows the defendant to plead to a subset of the original charges while the prosecution agrees to drop the rest.
  • The sentence. This option, which occurs more often in high-profile cases, allows the defendant to plead guilty to the original charge in exchange for a less-severe punishment.
  • The facts. If the inclusion of certain details would lead to a greater severity of punishment, the prosecution might agree to exclude them from consideration.

A competent criminal defense attorney from Weiner Law Group can advise you about whether or not negotiating a plea bargain could reduce your charges, your sentence, or both.

Ensuring a Plea Bargain’s Validity

A plea bargain is valid only when the prosecution can prove that the defendant who signed it knows that he has thereby waived his right to either stand trial or file an appeal. In addition, the prosecutor must be able to prove that the charges in question do have a supportable basis in fact.

Getting the Court’s Approval

After the parties on both sides have entered into a plea agreement, it is up to the court to accept it. No prosecuting attorney can force a favorable reception, but once he has provided proof of the bargain’s validity, most courts will comply with his recommendation.

When You Should Agree to a Plea Bargain

Despite the consequent waiving of certain rights, nine out of 10 people who face criminal charges in Nevada do find the pursuit of a plea bargain to be in their best interests. Before you agree to any plea deals, however, it is vital that you speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney. The experts at Weiner Law Group understand the common tactics to which most prosecutors will resort, and our ability to sense what the other side is thinking will assist us in making a meaningful counteroffer.

In the final analysis, you can trust the criminal attorneys at Weiner Law Group to go the extra mile for you, making every effort to ensure that any plea bargain the prosecution might offer will be in your best interests. Call us today at 702-202-0500 or fill out our contact form for more information about your criminal case.