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Family and Criminal Law Blog

Thursday, October 22, 2020

What Is a Plea Bargain?

While the focus on many shows about the criminal justice system may be on the courtroom battle, most criminal cases end up getting settled out of court, before the need for a full-blown trial. This is because the defendant and prosecutor have come to a plea bargain regarding the criminal defendant. What exactly is a plea bargain? We will discuss it in more detail here.

What is a Plea Bargain?

A plea bargain is, essentially an agreement between the defendant and prosecutor that trades a defendant’s agreement to plead guilty or no-contest in exchanged for a reduction in the number or severity of the charges or recommends a reduced sentence to the judge. Plea bargains are negotiated deals and they are the way most criminal cases ended up being resolved.

Prosecutors get the benefit of securing a guilty plea. Defendants get to avoid the stress of a trial that can be unpredictable in its outcome. Trials can also take a great deal of time and be expensive if the defendant has secured private legal counsel. A plea bargain gives both sides the security that comes with having control over the result of the case.

Plea bargains can be negotiated at basically any stage of the criminal justice process. This means that plea deals may be reached right after a defendant has been arrested and prior to the prosecutor filing criminal charges. There are two basic types of plea bargains. There is sentence bargaining and charge bargaining. In sentence bargaining, a prosecutor agrees to recommend a reduced sentence for certain criminal charges faced by the defendant if the defendant agrees to plead guilty or no contest to the charges.

Charge bargaining, on the other hand, refers to the prosecutors agreeing to reduce the criminal charge to a lesser offense or reduce the number of criminal charges a defendant faces in exchange for a plea of guilty or no contest by the defendant. The reduction in severity of an offense can have added benefits such as the possibility that they may be eligible to be expunged off of the defendant’s criminal record at a later date should other conditions be met.

While there are many potential benefits of a well-negotiated plea bargain, defendants should not enter into such agreements lightly. When pleading guilty or no contest, you know that these charges will end up on a criminal record. While it may be possible to expunge some criminal charges, this may not always be possible. Depending on the charges themselves, a defendant may be pleading guilty to a criminal offense that will essentially lead to a loss of certain civil liberties. Be sure to evaluate your options and weigh the costs and benefits prior to entering into a plea bargain.

Criminal Defense Attorneys

Plea bargains can give a level of control that is lost when a criminal case goes to trial. Defendants can reap the benefits of knowing they will see a reduction in the severity or number of their charges or a reduction in sentencing. These benefits should not be discounted. The dedicated criminal defense team at Navarrete & Schwartz always has the best interest of our clients in mind. We will always go through your options at every stage of the criminal justice process. We are proud to serve the residents of Midland, Texas. Contact us today.


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Navarrete & Schwartz, P.C. is located in Midland, Texas and serves the surrounding cities and counties, including: Odessa in Ector County, Andrews County, Martin County, Howard County, Winkler County and Crane County.



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