You are likely familiar with the term “plea bargain” if you have ever watched a crime drama show. However, it is also important to understand what a plea bargain is in the actual criminal justice system. There are more subtleties to it than what you see on television.
There are actually different types of plea bargains. It may or may not be a good idea to accept a plea bargain in your particular criminal case, but it is likely that the prosecution will offer you one. According to FindLaw, there are fact plea bargains, sentence plea bargains and charge plea bargains.
Fact plea bargains
This is the rarest type of plea bargain. Instead of dealing with your sentence or your charges, it deals with information. The prosecution and the defense will come to an agreement on how to handle the facts in your case, with a fact plea bargain.
Essentially, the defense usually agrees to allow the prosecution to present certain information as facts without needing to prove it. In exchange, the prosecution agrees not to introduce certain other facts into the trial.
Charge and sentence plea bargains
These kinds of plea bargains are much more common, and also what likely comes to mind when you envision a plea bargain. A charge bargain involves the defendant agreeing to plead guilty to a lesser charge in order to avoid pleading guilty to a more serious charge.
A sentence bargain is similar. With this type of bargain, the defendant agrees to plead guilty to the original charge, but in exchange for a reduced sentence.
Taking a plea bargain may or may not be a good idea. However, understanding them is certainly a good idea if you are heading into a criminal trial.