If you are facing criminal charges, you may wonder what your options are. There are criminal defense options, as well as the option of a plea bargain which may be possible depending on the circumstances. It is useful for those facing criminal charges to understand what plea bargaining is and what it entails. There are three areas of negotiation involved in plea bargaining and plea bargains may be different types.

The first type of plea negotiations include charge bargaining. Charge bargaining is a common type of plea bargaining which entails an accused individual pleading guilty to a lesser charge to avoid more serious charges. The more serious charges will be dismissed in return for the accused individual pleading guilty to lesser charges. It is important to note if a plea bargain is accepted, no trial is involved. Alternately, sentence bargaining entails an agreement between the accused individual and the prosecutor for the accused individual to receive a reduced sentence in exchange for agreeing to plead guilty to the charges they are facing. As is true of any plea agreement, a criminal trial is avoided. Fact bargaining is a third type of plea bargaining in which certain facts are stipulated to and others are not introduced.

In general, certain requirements must be met when a plea agreement is reached including that the accused individual accepting the plea agreement knowingly waives their rights; that the waiver of their rights is voluntary; and that there is a factual basis to support the charges the accused individual is pleading guilty to. Plea agreements are recommended to the court by the prosecutor and must be approved by the court.

A plea bargain must be thoughtfully and carefully considered because the rights of the accused individual are so significantly implicated in the process and some rights are being waived. As is always true when criminal charges and possible penalties are involved, it is important for accused individuals to be thoroughly familiar with all of their criminal defense options.

Source: Criminal.findlaw.com, “Plea Bargaining: Areas of Negotiation,” Accessed Aug. 10, 2017