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The pros and cons of plea bargaining in a criminal case

When New York residents are accused of a crime, they often considers what criminal defense options are available. While going to trial and fighting the charges could be the most suitable option for a defendant, the option of plea bargaining may get overlooked. While many fear that negotiating a deal could put them in a worse position, there are several benefits to consider when deciding whether to go forward with the plea bargaining process.

When weighing the pros and cons of the plea bargaining process, it is important to consider all the players in the process and what incentives would cause them to accept a plea bargain. With regards to a judge, the key incentive is to alleviate the need to go to trial. It is likely they have an overcrowded docket, and reducing the number of trials is always beneficial if it can be properly negotiated out of court. Additionally, the judges are well aware that prisons are overcrowded. If it is likely that the defendant would not do much jail time anyway, the judge might also be receptive to the plea bargaining process.

A plea bargain is also attractive for prosecutors. This helps them lighten their caseload while also assures a conviction, even if it is for a lesser charge or crime. A plea bargain could also help prosecutors build a case against a co-defendant, which assures them at least one conviction.

For the defendant, the plea bargaining process provides the accused with the opportunity to obtain a lighter sentence on a less severe charge, or have fewer charges on their criminal record. However, taking a plea bargain does mean taking a conviction, so it is imperative that defendants understand what that means.

While every defendant takes a different criminal defense approach, those accused of criminal charges are afforded the opportunity to initiate a criminal defense. It is important to take steps to understand what options are available, and what methods best suit the needs of the accused.

Source: Criminal.findlaw.com, "Plea Bargain Pros and Cons," accessed March 21, 2016

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