Plea deals are a common approach to closing a criminal case. Though, the reasons for settling on a deal may vary case by case, they are generally chosen when your attorney and you feel it is a better option than proceeding with a trial. A plea bargain can be an intriguing option when it is negotiated effectively.
Plea bargains occur when the defense and prosecution formulate a deal with each other. The defense or prosecution can initiate the deal to see how the other side may respond. Many defendants choose the plea deal because the deal allows them to avoid the court process. The entire court process can be lengthy, costly, and the anxiety awaiting the sentencing can be overwhelmingly stressful. However, arranging a deal allows the defendant to come to terms with the sentence, which may provide additional peace. Usually, a defendant will accept the deal because the outcome of the trial would likely pose a stricter sentence. However, even if the prosecution and defense agree on the settlement, it must be approved by the judge in order for the arrangement to be finalized.
Taking the Deal
When the defendant accepts the plea bargain, they are generally pleading guilty to a minumum of one of the charges. Due to the amount of risk often accompanied with a criminal trial, the plea deal can provide the defendant with a reasonable understanding of what is to come. The plea deal most commonly utilized is known as charge bargaining. This occurs when the prosecution and defense negotiate the plea down to a reduced charge. In general, if both parties agree, the judge will dismiss any other additional charges that may have been pending outside of the what was arranged in the deal. For example, a defendant may agree to a plea deal arranging a manslaughter charge instead of the original murder charge. Or, a defendant may agree to plead guilty to trespassing instead of proceeding with trial under the charges of trespassing and burglary.
In some instances, if a lesser crime has occurred there may be alternatives to accepting a charge bargain. Depending on which state the defendant lives in, some localities may offer other diversion programs if the offense was minor. The defendant may be required to participate in counseling, rehabilitation program, and comply to probation contingencies. These court diversion options may be offered to defendants charged with:
- Drug Charges
- Minor Traffic Offenses
- Non-Violent Crimes
- Petty Theft
However, if the defendant wishes to be eligible for the court diversion, they must not have previous offenses on their record.
A criminal defense lawyer such as the Criminal Lawyer Peoria IL locals trust will be an instrumental asset in arranging and negotiating a plea bargain with the state. Plea deals may be less expensive, less lengthy, and more private. It is advised to consult a criminal defense lawyer and discuss your situation. The lawyer may be able to formulate an arrangement both you, and the prosecution can agree upon.
Thanks to authors at Smith & Weer LLC for their insight into Criminal Defense.