If you were recently arrested for a crime and so far, you’ve been imagining that your case will go to trial, that’s not necessarily how things are going to play out. In many criminal cases, the case never makes it to trial and there are valid reasons for this. For starters, the court calendars across the country are clogged. Because of this, judges and prosecutors are motivated to settle cases out of court – through a plea bargain. Plea bargains help alleviate court schedules, but they also save taxpayers millions of dollars every year and that’s a low estimate. But, plea bargains benefit criminal defendants too. When a defendant accepts a plea bargain, it means he or she pleads guilty or no contest (nolo contendere), and in exchange, the prosecutor reduces the charge or recommends that the judge gives the defendant lighter sentence and penalties. In other words, everybody wins.
Trials Are More Risky
By their nature, trials are riskier and less predictable than plea bargains. However, when a defendant and prosecutor are able to agree on a plea bargain, they both have more control over the outcome of the case; hopefully, they can reach a deal they can both live with. For this reason alone, upwards of 90% of criminal convictions don’t come from trial, but from negotiated plea deals. Should you accept a plea bargain? Without knowing the facts of your case, we can’t say either way. A lot of it comes down to the evidence available and your actual guilt or innocence. If you’re being charged with murder and you had nothing to do with the crime, then by all means, you don’t want to plead guilty to something you didn’t do. If there’s a mountain of evidence against you and you did make a mistake, a plea bargain may be in your best interests.
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