Plea bargaining is important to understand because it is a significant part of the criminal justice system. For an accused individual facing criminal charges, and a potential plea bargain, there are likely many important questions that come up that need to be answered.
Plea negotiations fall into three main categories, including charge bargaining, sentence bargaining and fact bargaining. Charge bargaining and sentence bargaining are the most common. Charge bargaining refers to the accused individual pleading guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for more serious charges being dropped. Sentence bargaining, likewise, refers to the accused individual pleading guilty in exchange for a reduced sentence or reduced sentence recommendation to the judge.
Plea bargains are a common facet of the criminal justice system, but because they involve the accused individual waiving some of their rights, it is necessary for a plea bargain to be knowing, voluntary and that there be a factual basis to support the plea bargain. The area of the law referred to as criminal law provides important criminal defense protections for accused individuals, such as a right to a trial and other protections, so plea bargains should be carefully considered before they are entered into.
Sometimes a plea bargain may be the best option, while other times developing a criminal defense strategy to fight the charges the accused individual is facing may be the best option. It is important for accused individuals to thoroughly understand all of their options and which is best for them when facing criminal charges.