May, 2016

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How a Plea Agreement May Save Money and Time

Could Bargaining Help You Avoid a Protracted Trial?

The criminal justice system is complicated, and nobody would blame you for not wanting to go through its twists and turns. Fortunately, there are some alternative options to save yourself the trouble of sitting in court.

Plea agreements, also known as plea bargains, are an accepted means of striking a balance that might help you avoid conviction. Of course, not all bargains are equal. It’s worth going into them with as much legal knowledge as possible.

Plea Bargaining Basics

According to the American Bar Association, most criminal cases are actually resolved via plea agreements. What makes it so prevalent? While numerous factors are at play, the practical convenience of sending fewer cases to court and the potential for reduced trial costs are some of the most obvious.

Basically, the process works by allowing accused individuals to plead guilty to alternate lesser charges or a limited number of the total charges against them. In exchange, the prosecutors agree to advise judges to hand down reduced sentences.

Of course, this is just the ideal goal. Events don’t always pan out perfectly, especially for those who fail to understand their legal rights. The Possibilities of Plea Bargain:

A plea agreement struck up by a prosecutor and accepted by a defendant may still need approval from a judge or a court. In South Dakota and many other states, allegations associated with crimes that involved victims permit wronged individuals to talk to prosecutors about their opinions on the bargain.

It’s also worth noting that not every deal is a good deal. For instance, if you’re innocent of the charges you face and have the evidence to prove it, accepting a plea deal may not be your best option. Some research even suggests that prosecutors commonly offer plea bargains to avoid losing cases that were weak to begin with.

On the other hand, accepting a good bargain could help you avoid jail, court fees and a stressful, ongoing ordeal. You may be offered a chance to complete a diversion program, such as probation or education, instead of having to go through trial if you plead guilty to a low-level allegation. In some situations, you can even agree to conditional plea bargains that let you appeal the issue later if you still disagree with how you were treated.

Benefiting From Plea Agreements

So what’s the final verdict on accepting a plea bargain? Although it’s a bit too simplistic to say they’re either good or bad, few would deny that they may have major positive impacts for those facing jail time, fines or contentious court battles.

For most accused individuals, the key lies in proper case management. It’s vital to understand whether the bargain terms on offer are actually superior to the potential alternatives and if accepting will protect your rights. To learn more about this essential legal process, get in touch with Wilka & Welter, LLP, today.