Many criminal cases are actually over before evidence is ever presented to a jury. In fact, most cases never go to trial at all. That’s because an overwhelming majority of criminal cases are settled through plea bargains.
What Are Plea Bargains?
Essentially, a plea bargain is the negotiation between the prosecution and defense as to what punishment a defendant should receive if they plead guilty to the crime. For example, a criminal defense lawyer may present prosecutors with a deal saying her client will plead guilty to misdemeanor drug charges. In exchange, she will ask that the defendant do 20 hours’ community service and receive probation instead of jail time.
Plea bargaining expedites the litigation process, freeing up the court’s perpetually overcrowded calendar. Plea bargains can benefit all parties; defendants get lesser penalties, and the courts can close more cases.
Who Decides Whether to Take a Deal?
Your defense lawyers and the prosecution will do the negotiating, but ultimately, the choice is yours. It’s up to you to decide whether you want to plead guilty in court and accept the penalties offered. Otherwise, you always have a constitutional right to go to trial.
It’s important to trust your criminal defense attorney. He does this work every day, and can tell you whether or not the deal in front of you is worth taking. He also has a pretty good idea of what to expect if your case goes to trial.
The Lewisville criminal defense attorneys at Julian, Crowder & Shuster are only concerned with making sure that their clients receive the best possible defense.