If you’re familiar with the criminal process in any regard— even if it’s just from TV, you’ve likely heard the term ‘plea bargain’ before. A plea bargain is pretty self-explanatory; it’s an agreement made between the defense and prosecution in a criminal case. In this scenario, the defendant agrees to plead guilty to the charge at hand. This may seem counter-intuitive to you. After all, why would you get a lawyer and go through all of this just to say ‘I’m guilty’?
Plea Bargain: What is it? And why would I plead guilty?
By accepting a plea, the defendant has the chance to receive a less serious charge. For example, a defendant may plea guilty to manslaughter for drunk driving, instead of the prosecutor pursuing a charge for second or even first-degree murder. Plea bargains consider all of the evidence. If there is overwhelming evidence against the defendant, it allows them to take a lesser charge for a less significant penalty. Therefore, you can have lesser jail time, a lighter fine, and maybe even get reduced to misdemeanor status. Of course, any of these opportunities will depend on your individual case.
Plea bargains have altered the landscape of criminal law
They shorten the criminal process significantly. Hardly any cases actually go in front of a jury trial any more. In fact, most cases end with the prosecutor and defense attorney reaching a plea bargain together. This puts defense attorneys in a tough spot. On one hand, they want to get their client the best possible outcome. On the other hand, they can also form relationships with prosecutors which, in turn, may ensure better outcomes in the future.
Plea bargains are an integral part of DUI law
As stated above, they depend entirely upon the facts surrounding your arrest. If the evidence overwhelmingly suggests that you were driving under the influence, a plea bargain can help your situation. In contrast, if you believe that your case has potential to win, then a plea bargain may not help your case. The best thing to do when discussing plea bargains, is to go over the facts of your case with an attorney you trust. Your best shot at a better outcome, starts with a seasoned professional.