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The plea negotiation process and how it could benefit a defendant

Facing a criminal charge can be a difficult spot for New York residents to be in. While the charge may be serious or minor, the aftermath of a criminal conviction means that a defendant will have a criminal record. Therefore, those accused of a crime, no matter how minor, should consider his or her defense options. Because going to court, facing a judge and jury and arguing a case can be intimidating and daunting, some defendants seek defense options that will keep them out of a courtroom as much as possible.

Plea negotiation can be a helpful and beneficial defense strategy for some. Plea negotiation can come in three forms. The first is charge bargaining. This form of plea bargaining involved the negotiation of the specific charges against a defendant. Typically, in return for a defendant giving a guilty plea to a lesser charge, a prosecutor will dismiss the higher charges or the other charges against the defendant.

The second type is sentence bargaining. This plea negotiation involves a defendant agreeing to plea guilty to the stated charge in return for a lighter sentence. While this saves the prosecution from going through trial and the need to prove its case, it provides a defendant with lighter penalties.

The final type of plea negotiation is fact bargaining. This involves the admission of certain fact, thereby eliminating the need for the prosecution to prove them in court. In return, the defendant will receive an agreement that certain facts will not be entered into evidence.

Initiating a defense strategy can be difficult. It can be even more challenging knowing that a defense process like a plea bargain will still result in a conviction. Thus, it is important for a defendant to fully understand their situation and their legal options when deciding to plea bargain. An attorney experienced in criminal law could help a defendant initiate a defense that could result in reduced charges or even dismiss some or all of them against them.

Source: Findlaw.com, "Plea Bargaining: Areas of Negotiation," accessed Feb. 24, 2017

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