One of the most commonly known legal terms is “plea bargain” – a term that represents a deal or agreement between the prosecutor and the defendant to resolve a criminal matter. Theoretically, both parties get something out of a plea bargain. Typically, the defendant faces reduce penalties and/or charges while the prosecutor gets a conviction without taking the case to trial. The parties may agree to a plea bargain at any time before the court renders a verdict.
The judge hearing the matter must approve a plea bargain. He or she will go to great lengths to ensure that the defendant understands the plea bargain and is entering into the plea bargain voluntarily. Entering into a plea agreement sacrifices the defendant’s constitutional right to a trial and moves the matter forward to the sentencing hearing.
The willingness to enter a plea bargain is typically based on the strength of the prosecution’s case. If the prosecution has a weak case, it will expend a greater effort to force a plea bargain. In this situation, the defendant may want to proceed to trial if the chances of a complete acquittal are significantly high. In turn, if the prosecution has a strong case, it may be the party that prefers going forward to the trial stage since it believes that there is a substantial likelihood of conviction.
A plea bargain is a predictable alternative for a defendant, especially if the charges are for a serious criminal offense. A plea bargain allows the prosecution to quickly resolve a criminal case with the minimum use of their available resources. Courts benefit by avoiding the financial, time-consuming costs of trial, which benefits California taxpayers in the long run.
A plea bargain may be initiated by either party as soon as the arraignment hearing. Many plea deals involving felonies occur at or following the preliminary hearing. The decision to enter a plea bargain is one of the most crucial decisions that a criminal defendant makes. A defendant must discuss it at length with an experienced criminal defense attorney, who may help achieve the best possible result from a plea bargain.
John Patrick Dolan is a California State Bar Certified Specialist in Criminal Law, the highest achievement awarded by the State Bar of California to attorneys in the field of criminal law. The advice, guidance, and representation of experienced criminal defense counsel may be crucial to achieving the best possible result in any criminal matter. John Patrick Dolan has forty years of criminal defense experience. Contact Dolan Law Offices today at 760-775-3739 or 562-824-4007 to discuss your situation or find out more online here.