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How Does a Plea Bargain Work?

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How Does a Plea Bargain Work?

A plea bargain is a deal between the prosecution and the defendant of criminal cases. After the two sides have negotiated and decided on a deal, the judge will evaluate it and decide whether or not to accept it.

Judicial Discretion

The judge has full discretion whether or not to accept the plea bargain. The judge will factor the terms of the plea bargain against the charges against the defendant and the defendant’s past behavior (i.e. prior criminal record). Moreover, the judge will factor in the facts of the case, the interest of the victim, and the interest of the general public.

Considerations When Entering the Plea Bargain

Plea bargains are unique, and may vary from different judges and different jurisdictions. Nevertheless, when judges review and accept plea bargains, judges are generally able to:

  • Accept terms
  • Reject terms
  • Accept plea agreement under certain conditions
  • Suggest the defendant plea without a negotiated agreement

For some jurisdictions, the judge may not alter the negotiated plea agreement if both prosecution and defense has agreed to it. The judge must enter the plea agreement as it or reject it in the entirely.

What Happens If the Judge Accepts the Plea?

Once the judge accepts the plea during the criminal sentencing, the trial is over and the judge cannot reject it later. However, the judge may place conditions on the plea. And if those conditions are not met, then the judge may reject the plea.

Consulting an Attorney

If you are part of a criminal case and are considering a plea bargain, please consult a plea bargain lawyer. The lawyer will explain the process, inform you of the consequence, and help you enter into a fair plea bargain.

Photo of page author Mabel Yee

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 01-21-2015 02:09 PM PST

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