Facing a felony charge could result in large fines and prison time if a court hands down a conviction. Understandably, people in this position want to know about any available options to avoid the worst outcome from a criminal trial. This is why some individuals charged with a crime turn to plea bargaining.
According to the American Bar Association, making a plea bargain with a prosecutor allows someone to avoid the possibility of a conviction by pleading guilty to a lesser charge or just one from of a collection of charges. There are both benefits and drawbacks to exercising this option.
Reasons different parties use plea bargaining
By entering a guilty plea to a lesser charge or a reduced number of charges, a person can diminish the amount of possible jail time that would have resulted from a conviction on more serious charges. The plea may even result in probation or a deferral program, particularly if the severity of the charges drops from the felony level to a misdemeanor.
Courts have their reasons to seek plea bargains. Prosecutors do not have to worry about whether their efforts to secure a conviction will be in vain. Courts can also avoid the time and cost of putting on a criminal trial.
The downsides of plea bargains
Plea bargains do not always work out. A judge might decide to turn down the deal even if the prosecutor wants to go along with it. Also, a plea bargain still means pleading guilty to a crime. This could have repercussions if you interview for a job that requires a background check. A plea deal also limits the possibility of appealing the case.
Remember that people accused of a serious crime have the right to contest the charges, so a plea bargain is not the only option. Given that criminal cases vary, individuals should consider their legal actions in light of their circumstances.