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Understanding plea agreements as part of a criminal defense

| Jun 25, 2020 | Firm News |

When a person is placed under arrest in Georgia, the concern over a conviction and its consequences may make a plea bargain a viable alternative. This can be a useful option not just for the person on trial, but for the prosecution as well. It is important to understand what can be negotiated and how.

When considering a plea bargain, there is charge bargaining, sentence bargaining, and fact bargaining. With charge bargaining, the charges themselves will be subject to negotiation. Generally, the prosecutor will request that the defendant plead guilty to lesser charges and the more serious allegations will be dismissed. Sentence bargaining requires that the person pleads guilty and is given a lower sentence than there might be if there was a conviction at trial. With fact bargaining, the person stipulates certain facts and the prosecutor does not need to prove them in the case. In exchange, other facts will not be referenced.

The plea bargain is a negotiation in which the prosecutor will offer a deal. The judge is not involved until the plea is entered. The prosecutor can recommend that the court allow the plea agreement, but the court is not obligated to do so. Those facing criminal charges should assess the situation from every angle before deciding to take a plea deal as its penalties could be worse than if the case goes to trial. There might be a good chance of getting an acquittal at trial.

In many cases, the plea agreement is preferable to trial and having a potentially serious jail sentence, fines and other penalties. However, it is wise to think about it very seriously before accepting the agreement. A legal firm experienced in criminal defense could analyze the situation and provide guidance and advice for a case strategy.

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