Understanding Plea Bargains
It is incredibly stressful to be charged with a crime, however, you may take some comfort in knowing that only about 10% of cases actually go to trial. This means that you have a 90% chance of receiving a plea bargain that allows you to settle your matter without leaving it up to the hands of a jury. So what is a plea bargain? Essentially, it’s an agreement between the prosecution and the defendant, which allows the defendant to plead guilty or no contest in exchange for reduced charges (such as pleading to a lesser offense), a reduced sentence, or a specific sentence. So why would a defendant pass up on their opportunity to have a fair trial? In most cases, because it is beneficial to do so.
What are the Benefits of a Plea Bargain?
A plea bargain benefits the prosecution and the legal system by allowing courts to skip spending valuable time and resources litigating every case that comes to it. Frankly, the criminal court system is overburdened even with just 10% of cases going to trial, so it’s hard to imagine how the legal system would even function if 100% of cases had to be tried before a jury. Additionally, it allows prosecutors to keep non-violent and first-time offenders out of already overcrowded prisons by allowing them to plead guilty in exchange for probation in certain cases. Plea bargains can also be highly beneficial to the defendant. This is because plea bargains offer certainty that trials cannot. Even when a defendant is innocent, there is no telling how a jury will respond to the information presented, and it is scary to hand your fate over to the hands of a group of strangers. Not to mention, the legal system rarely works in favor of defendants. For this reason, many defendants may choose to plead guilty or no contest in exchange for a specific sentence to avoid surprises at trial and to mitigate the potential risk they could face in sentencing if they are found guilty. For instance, a defendant who faces a maximum sentence of 20 years if they go to trial, may choose to plead guilty in exchange for a certain sentence of 6 years in prison. Additionally, plea bargains may give defendants the opportunity to plead to a less serious offense that will not hinder them long-term in the same way that the charge they are facing would. For instance, some felonies may be able to be reduced to misdemeanors through plea bargaining. Many defendants would rather plead guilty to a misdemeanor than risk having a felony on their record, which would have far more serious repercussions in terms of where they are able to live, work, and even vote, moving forward.
Contact the Faulkner Law Group in Tampa, Florida
If you are facing criminal charges, the experienced Tampa criminal defense attorneys at the Faulkner Law Group will fight to get you the best deal possible. Contact the Faulkner Law Group today to schedule a consultation. The sooner you call, the sooner we can start working for you.