If you’re facing criminal charges for the first time, you probably
have a lot of questions going through your mind right now. Will you be
found guilty? Will you be incarcerated? How much will the fines be? Will
you lose your job? And, will your case go to trial? For the purposes of
this article, we’re going to discuss the last question about the
likelihood of your case going to trial.
You have probably seen big trials on TV and in the movies. While these
happen sometimes, by far the majority of cases do not go to trial. Instead,
they resolve through a plea bargain, which is also called “plea
How Plea Bargains Work
With a plea bargain, the prosecution and the defense reach an agreement.
This is how many criminal cases are resolved in Florida and throughout
the nation, and there are very good reasons for this, which benefit both sides.
Why plea bargaining?
- Defendants save a lot of money on legal fees.
- Defendants can avoid the publicity of a trial.
- Defendants avoid the risk of a harsher punishment from a jury.
- The prosecution and the defense avoid the uncertainty of a trial.
- The courts avoid the time and expense of dealing with a trial every time
someone is charged with a crime.
So, how does plea bargaining work? Well, either side can put an offer on
the table, though both sides have to reach an agreement for it to be successful.
In most cases, a plea bargain goes one of two ways. One, the defendant
pleads guilty to a lesser charge or two, the defendant pleads guilty to
only one charge when they are facing multiple charges. It can also involve
the defendant pleading guilty to the charge in exchange for a lighter sentence.
Regardless of the plea deal, it has to receive approval from the judge.
The judge is not obligated to approve a plea bargain or agree to the prosecutor’s
recommended sentence. In many situations, once a plea bargain is reached
it has to be approved by the court. Sometimes though, the prosecutor can
drop the charges in exchange for a “plea” to a lesser crime
and the prosecutor does not need the court’s approval.
Facing criminal charges?
Contact Albaugh Law Firm for a free case evaluation.