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Is a plea bargain a good idea?

Plea bargaining is a process in which the prosecution and defense work out a deal. Instead of facing the harshest penalties and going to trial, a person who works out a plea deal may agree to a lesser punishment in exchange for information or for pleading guilty.

Defendants can save themselves much trouble by agreeing to a plea deal. For instance, it helps save them money on legal costs and helps prevent them from facing more significant penalties in court. The prosecution also saves itself time and energy while still making sure the defendant faces penalties for an alleged crime.

The court system is designed for plea deals. Without them, there would never be enough time to hear every case that comes to the court system.

Plea bargains are generally negotiated between your attorney and the prosecution. Either side has the ability to seek a deal. Victims do usually get a say in the plea bargaining process, but the results of any deal made aren't made public until the court announces them.

There are usually alternatives available for people who commit crimes. For instance, instead of heading to prison, someone may be diverted to a drug or alcohol abuse treatment program. Diversion is a goal in many cases, because it can help reintegrate a person into society sooner while treating or addressing the underlying reason for a crime.

A plea bargain could help you in your case. Your attorney will talk to you about the options and if bargaining is the right choice for you. Sometimes, it can make a major difference in the penalties you face.

Source: American Bar Association, "How Courts Work," accessed April 10, 2018

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