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How are plea negotiations used as a criminal defense?

When individuals in New York are accused of a crime, they often seek to resolve the case through legal defense options. This could help defendants not only reach a timely resolution but could also help the accused avoid serious penalties, especially if the criminal defense process helps the defendant reduce or dismiss some or all of the charges against them. While being cleared of all charges is often desired, for some, it is not always an obtainable route or one that meets the defendant's best interests. Whether it is because of the accused's criminal background or his or her desire to avoid a lengthy and costly trial, the plea bargaining process might be the best option.

How are plea negotiations used as a criminal defense? In order to better understand how negotiating a plea could benefit a defendant, it must first be understood why a plea bargain would be used. First, defendants can use plea negotiations to avoid a lengthy and costly criminal defense at trial and avoid the publicity a trial often involves. Second, the prosecution also saves time and money by negotiating a plea, which could be favorable to a defendant.

Next, both sides spare the uncertainty of trial. There are many what-ifs when it comes to criminal defense trials, and a defendant could reduce the risks of more serious consequences by negotiating a plea. Lastly, the court system benefits from plea bargaining because they are saved the burden of conducting a trail for each and every crime charged in the jurisdiction.

How is the plea negotiation process initiated? Either side - the defense or the prosecution - may make the first negotiation plea. From there, both sides will bargain until an agreement is reached. Plea bargaining usually involves the defendant pleading guilty to a lesser charge or to one of the charges if they face several criminal charges. It could also result in the defendant pleading guilty to the charge or charges they face but for a lesser sentence. Other alternatives are also possible such as diversion programs.

Whether a defendant seeks to negotiate a plea of initiate a different criminal defense process, it is important he or she is aware of the rights afforded to defendants. Those unsure of their options or how to navigate a defense could obtain legal guidance, ensuring they are knowledgeable about the options available.

Source: Americanbar.org, "How Courts Work-Steps in a Trial: Plea Bargaining," accessed May 25, 2015

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