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What is a plea negotiation?

Facing criminal allegations is more than enduring the possibility of penalties. It is also the process that the accused must go through, dealing with the possibility that their best criminal defense strategy is not one that could clear his or her name, but rather one that could reduce the consequences involved. Although it is ideal to assert a strong defense in order to have the charges dismissed or obtain a not guilty verdict, it can sometimes be more advantageous for a defendant to make a plea.

What is a plea negotiation? A plea negotiation, which is also referred to as a plea bargain, can be used at three different points in the criminal defense process. Depending on the details of the case and the end goal of the defendant, plea negotiation might be used at multiple times.

The first point a defendant could use the plea negotiation process is for charge bargaining. This is the most common and widely used form of a plea, and it involves the negotiation of the charges or crimes the defendant will face at trial. This process is frequently used when a defendant will plead guilty and in return they will be charged with a lesser charge.

The next phase a defendant could use the plea negotiation process is for sentence bargaining. This process involves the agreement to plead guilty to the stated charge, rather than a reduced charge. In return, the defendant will face a lighter sentence for the crime.

The third and final time a defendant could use the plea negotiation process is for fact bargaining. This is not as common and is used the least. Fact bargaining is used to negotiate the admitted facts in a case. This helps eliminate the need to prove the facts in court. In return for this agreement, the other party will agree not to introduce certain facts into evidence.

While everyone has a picture in their mind what the criminal defense process will look like, it does not always result in arguments made at court. In some cases, making a plea bargain might be your best option. Thus, it is important to become well informed on your situation as this could help you strategize you best criminal defense.

Source: Findlaw.com, "Plea Bargaining: Areas of Negotiation," accessed Oct. 8, 2017

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