A prosecutor can offer a defendant a deal, provided they admit guilt. This is called plea bargaining. The prosecutor will allow the defendant to plead guilty to a crime in exchange for a reduced sentence or a lesser charge.
This guide discusses why prosecutors offer plea bargains
Help with another case
Prosecutors offer plea deals if they want a defendant to help them with another case. For example, if they arrest someone with drug possession, they may offer to reduce penalties, provided the defendant helps them identify and arrest the primary drug source.
Further, when two or more defendants are involved in a case, a prosecutor may secretly offer each of them a plea bargain to encourage them to testify against one another.
Some prosecutors offer defendants plea bargains to avoid trial. Trials can be time-consuming and exhausting, especially for a prosecutor with multiple cases. When a defendant pleads guilty, a trial will not take place. Instead, the court will prepare for a sentencing hearing.
It guarantees a result
Prosecutors know they might lose if they take a case to court. Besides, even if a judgment goes in their favor, the defendant can appeal the case, and the appellate court may overturn the original decision. This uncertainty means many prosecutors prefer to offer plea bargains to avoid the chances they lose in court.
Should you take a plea bargain?
While plea bargains are definitely advantageous to the prosecutor, they aren’t always in a defendant’s best interest. That’s why you get legal guidance before deciding whether to take one.