Prosecutors may offer a criminal defendant the opportunity to make a plea bargain, or a defense attorney may request one. Defendants may be reluctant to plead guilty, even if pleading guilty to lesser charges may be advantageous.
All defendants’ situations are different, and they must carefully weigh the pros and cons. Here are some reasons why criminal defendants may wish to consider entering into a plea bargain agreement.
The main reason that prosecutors may grant a plea bargain is that it spares them from having to prove their case at trial. Not having to go through a trial may also be beneficial to defendants. Avoiding trial may offer a fast resolution to a criminal matter, reduce legal costs, and minimize stress.
Some agreements could involve pleading guilty to an offense that is less serious than the original charge. Reducing the severity of charges may result in a misdemeanor conviction rather than a felony conviction. Misdemeanors generally have less serious consequences than felony charges, and they stay on a person’s public criminal record for less time.
A defendant who is facing multiple charges may consider entering into a plea bargain to reduce the number of charges. A prosecutor could offer to dismiss one or more of several charges if a defendant pleads guilty to one charge.
Ultimately, defendants should not enter into plea bargains lightly. All criminal defendants are entitled to a fair hearing, and they do not need to accept a plea bargain simply because a prosecutor offers one.