If you have been arrested on a criminal charge, your attorney has undoubtedly let you know what you might be facing. Once you case comes before the judge, and your trial proceeds towards a ruling and sentencing, you may be faced with a decision, however. At some point, your attorney may ask you if you are willing to accept a plea bargain. This is when you agree to plead guilty to a certain charge, which will put an end to litigation. The plea bargain agreement may be beneficial to you, or not, but it's important that you fully understand what you are agreeing to and that the final decision is strictly up to you and you alone. You may be wondering why you are being offered this plea bargain in the first place, so read below for a better understanding of this legal action and hopefully you will be able to make a more informed decision.
Crowded Calendars: Judges and prosecutors often face challenges with scheduling and calendars. The onus is on the court system to ensure that defendants are given an opportunity to a speedy trial, which is difficult to do when there are far more cases than time to litigate them. A plea bargain means one less trial to go through. Needless to say, court time is expensive, and plea bargains can help prosecutors deal with declining budgets and reduced staffs.
Crowded Jails: If your offense is not considered a major one, the powers that be may want to move your case to a quick conclusion so that they can clear some space in the overcrowded jail for some really bad guys. A plea bargain may mean that you get out of jail relatively quickly and are sentenced to other forms of punishment, like probation, community service, etc. Additionally, your plea bargain for a lessor offense may mean keeping the prisons less crowded and reserved for the more serious criminals.
A Win for the Prosecution: No matter how much evidence seems to be in the State's favor, no prosecutor can ever be too sure about getting a conviction on a charge. A plea bargain means an automatic win for the State, without the long and costly court battle.
Protecting Valuable Sources: Most prosecuting attorneys maintain a stable of valuable sources, or informants, that provide them with information. The protection of the identity of these sources is paramount, and a court trial could force the prosecution to reveal the informant's identity. Plea bargains do not require that confidential informants be revealed. As a bonus to the prosecution, if you are offered a decent plea bargain and accept, you may become one of those valuable informants yourself.
Be sure to discuss your plea bargain with your criminal defense attorney and know what you are agreeing to.