Plea bargain is a buzzword that gets thrown around a lot in courtroom dramas and cop shows, but what is a plea bargain and how does it work? Most people don’t know this, but almost 90% of convictions happen by means of a plea bargain. This means only 10% of convictions result from a courtroom battle.
What is a plea bargain?
A plea bargain is a deal made between the defendant and the prosecutor before the case goes to court. Typically the defendant will either agree to plea guilty or no contest, and the prosecutor will agree to drop some charges or recommend a more favorable sentence.
Why are plea bargains so common?
Prosecutors and judges like to use plea bargains because it saves time and money for everyone. The court system is becoming more and more overloaded, which means the state wants to cut down on the cases that actually get heard in court.
If a case does go to trial and is contested, it can take several weeks or even several months. This just adds to the backlog and drags out wait times for court dates. If both sides agree to a plea bargain the trial only takes a few minutes and before you know it the judge bangs his gavel and it’s all over.
Is no contest the same thing as guilty?
Not necessarily. In fact, if you plead no contest in a criminal case, the law states that this plea can not be used as an admission of guilt if a civil case follows. There are a few exceptions to this rule, but it works most of the time.
Plea bargains happen more than most people think, but it’s not your only option. Using a skilled criminal defense lawyer like Jacqui Ford will allow you to see all your options. Jacqui Ford prides herself on making use of every tool available to her clients.