If you've been arrested for a criminal matter, you and your attorney may be the recipient of the offer of a "deal" at some point. Plea bargains allow people who've been charged with a crime to plead to a lesser offense, in exchange for a lesser sentence than they could have faced had they been found guilty of the original charge. You should understand that this plea also means giving up your right to a trial, and that you will be immediately sentenced. You will still face punishment and you will still have a criminal record. You, and you alone, can make this decision, but your attorney can provide you with enough information to allow you to make an informed decision. Read on to learn more about why plea bargains exist and how they benefit the justice system.
Jails are meant to be temporary holding spaces for people awaiting trial, but in some cases the system has gotten bogged down, leading to more people in jail than there are spaces for. When a suspect agrees to accept a lesser charge, that lesser charge often results in punishments that take the accused out of jail and into probation, work farms, community service and more, freeing up needed space in the jail for the more serious offenders who may be facing trial without the benefit of bail.
A Timely Trial
Those accused of crimes are entitled to (relatively) speedy trials, and not everyone is eligible for a plea bargain. When the court calendars are packed, defendants using plea bargains free space for others to proceed to trial. Additionally, it costs a lot more to put on a trial than to have a defendant plead to a lesser charge, and prosecutors who are facing budgetary constraints welcome this cheaper method of dealing with charges.
Someone's Keeping Score
In some cases, the office of the prosecutor is an elected one, and what prosecutor doesn't want to brag about how tough on crime they are? When it comes to statistics, a plea bargain is a conviction and a conviction is a win for the state, regardless of it being for a lesser crime than originally charged. Additionally, when cases go to court, it can be a gamble and a win is never guaranteed.
Waiting for the Bigger Fish
Court cases may require the testimony of a protected party, which could interfere with other investigations. For example, if a confidential informant's identity could be compromised at a trial, it might be better to allow the small fish to plead while awaiting arrest of the bigger fish in the future.
Discuss your plea deal with your attorney and be sure you know exactly what you are agreeing to before you sign on the dotted line. For more information, contact companies like The Fitzpatrick Law Firm.