Considering the Pros and Cons of a Plea Bargain
Benefits and Consequences
A plea bargain requires a defendant to plead their guilt for a lesser charge than the one they are initially accused of committing. In exchange, prosecutors agree to shorter prison sentences, a dismissal of additional charges, or a dismissal of greater charges.
Some prosecutors offer a defendant a plea bargain that will reduce their sentence, but still require the defendant to plead guilty to a serious charge. This may not be beneficial to the defendant in the long term.
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Initial Appearance and Arraignment
Judges typically do not have jurisdictional authority required for plea bargains at the initial appearance of a case. Therefore, the arraignment stage of the trial is when plea bargains are often offered to the defendant. The reasons for offering plea bargains include a defendant’s inability to meet bail and increased pressure on the prosecutor.
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Probation Versus Jail Time
Often, pleading guilty allows a defendant to be released on probation. An innocent plea forces defendants to remain in jail. Unfortunately, agreeing to probation may require defendants to plead to a more serious charge. Additionally, probation requires strict obligations that are difficult to fulfill. Any violation of these difficult terms can result in a severe sentence.
Contact an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer at The Law Office of John Hairgrove today.