Many people across the country, including New York residents, may believe that the only way to protect themselves from criminal charges is to go through the criminal justice system. While this may be true for people who are certain they can clear their name, it might not be the best option for everyone facing criminal charges and fearing a criminal conviction. This is perhaps why most criminal prosecutions in the country do not end up in a criminal trial but instead are finalized through plea bargains.
What is a plea bargain? It is an agreement between the prosecutor and the defendant whereby each party is making concessions for the other. In a typical plea agreement, the defendant agrees to plead guilty to some or all of the charges, or lesser charges, if the prosecutor agrees to make some concessions. These concessions could be reducing the penalties associated with the crime, reducing the severity of charges or recommending a reduced sentence.
A judge’s role in plea-bargaining is generally limited. They are often not directly involved in plea negotiations. But when the agreement is finalized, it serves as a contract between the prosecution and the defendant, which means if one party breaks their end of the deal, then the other is also no longer bound by it.
It is important to understand all the options one has to defend their rights against criminal charges. A criminal defense doesn’t always have to end up through litigation-depending on the circumstances, plea agreements may better serve an accused’s interests. A criminal defense attorney may be able to help New York residents protect their future by guiding them through their options.