Because many criminal cases end up in a plea bargain, it is helpful for accused individuals to be familiar with the process and know how to effectively negotiate a plea bargain, if that is what they choose to do. Because plea bargains can involve not pursuing other criminal defense avenues, and the accused individual waiving some of their criminal defense rights, it is helpful for accused individuals to carefully consider the plea-bargaining process.
There are different areas of negotiation related to a plea bargain. A plea bargain refers to when criminal charges are addressed through the process of the accused individual pleading guilty to some or all of the charges, or different charges, in exchange for a reduction in the number or nature of charges they are facing or a favorable recommendation to the judge for a reduced sentence.
Plea bargains are negotiated through the prosecutor and the prosecutor’s office in the accused individual’s case. As mentioned before, the decision to pursue a plea bargain should not be taken lightly. As part of a plea bargain, the accused individual must meet certain requirements that they are knowingly waiving their rights, such as to a trial; that they are voluntarily waiving those rights and accepting the plea bargain; and that there is a factual basis to support the guilt of the accused individual to the charges they are pleading guilty to.
Because of the serious nature of the plea-bargaining process for the accused individual, trained guidance throughout the process to ensure the accused individual understands all of their criminal defense options is important. Fully understanding criminal defense options and rights can help the accused individual decide which option is best for them, including if it is the option to accept a plea bargain.