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What happens during federal plea bargaining?

On Behalf of | Aug 21, 2023 | Federal Crimes |

The federal court system has many things in common with state systems. While it may seem scarier to go to court in the federal system, it is much like any other court system.

Like at the state level, federal prosecutors can offer plea bargain options to defendants. They are just as common at this level as at the state.

Plea bargaining explained

A plea bargain is something the prosecution can offer the defendant. It is an agreement to forego a trial. Usually, the defendant must admit guilt in exchange for some concessions from the prosecution. For example, the prosecution may offer to not ask for the death penalty or may agree to drop some of the charges.  Plea bargaining is popular because it saves time and money.

The process of plea bargaining

Plea bargaining at the federal level involves the prosecutor giving an offer to the defendant. The defendant has the ability to negotiate the terms, and the prosecutor can accept or refuse the negotiations. Often, victims are part of the process, working with the prosecutor to determine what is a fair offer. However, the prosecutor has the final say on what to offer or accept from the defendant.

Still, it is the defendant who has the ultimate control to accept or reject the offer. It is not mandatory to take a plea bargain.

In the end, if a plea bargain goes through, the court will have the final decision of accepting or denying it. A judge can throw it out if he or she believes it is not legally solid. It is not a finalized agreement until the court accepts it.