Picture of courthouse taken by Ian Britton: Freefoto.com
In a plea bargain, essentially the defendant agrees to admit the charges and to receive a certain type of punishment. The punishment itself can vary from a fine, to probation and finally incarceration.
There are certain advantages to pleas that can’t all be covered in this post. However, I will try to cover a few main reasons why defendants decide to plead. First, a defendant will usually get a better deal pleading to a case before trial than if the defendant was found guilty after trial. It is common for the prosecution to recommend probation before trial, but jail time if the person is found guilty at trial. Therefore, many defendants may want to take a plea deal before trial to avoid jail time.
Second, the prosecution may be dismissing some charges in exchange of the defendant agreeing to a plea bargain. There are certain charges that have mandatory jail sentences. That means if you are charged with one of these crimes and convicted at trial, the judge can only sentence you to jail for that specific period of time. In order to avoid serving a minimum mandatory jail sentence a defendant may agree to a plea bargain.
Third, the defendant may just want the case to be over. I hear this all the time and try hard to convince a person not to plead to a case just to get the case over with. Once you plead to a case, it is very difficult to change the result. There are certain situations the case can be reopened, but it is becoming increasingly difficult. Court cases take time and people get impatient. Therefore, some people plead to cases just because they want to get the done. This is an awful reason to plead to a case and one should be careful about pleading just to resolve a case.
Finally, pleading to a case is serious business. It isn’t like impulsively going out to buy something that you can’t afford from the store and deciding to return it the next day. The criminal process is much more difficult and you can’t return a plea based solely on buyer’s remorse.
For more information: visit www.attorneychan.com or contact me at 508-808-8902