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What to know about plea bargains

| May 4, 2020 | Felonies |

It’s relatively common for defendants in Georgia to take plea deals in their cases. In many cases, a defendant who chooses to accept a deal will plead guilty to a lesser charge. This will likely result in less jail or prison time, a lower fine or other benefits that might not be available if a defendant lost at trial. For a prosecutor, a plea deal means a victory in a given matter without the need for a potentially lengthy trial.

It is possible that a prosecutor will offer a reduced sentence in exchange for a guilty plea without reducing the charges a person faces. A prosecutor does not have the authority to approve a plea deal on his or her own. Instead, it will be recommended to the judge.

The judge may play a role in the plea negotiations as well. Those who have been offered a plea are advised to consider all the possible ramifications of doing so. For instance, they may be required to register as sex offenders even if they avoid jail time in their cases. Depending on a person’s past criminal record, taking a plea deal could result in significant penalties even if the conviction is for a relatively minor offense.

In general, people who have been charged with a crime may be entitled to receive counsel from a criminal defense attorney. An attorney may help negotiate a plea deal or take other steps to help a person obtain a favorable outcome. These steps may include having charges reduced or negotiating a deal to have certain evidence excluded during a trial. This may weaken the prosecution’s case enough to get a jury to acquit.

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