If you have ever seen any kind of crime drama movie or TV show, you have probably seen some sort of heated scene take place in a courtroom where the main character’s attorney fights for his or her client’s freedom by attempting to prove his or her innocence. In reality, more than 97 percent of criminal cases are resolved by plea bargains, according to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL). Plea bargains were created in response to a number of issues faced during criminal trials, such as the length of time it takes to go through a trial and the expenses associated with that legal process. However, some argue that plea bargains take away the right to a fair trial.
Understanding Plea Bargains
A plea bargain is an agreement made between the defendant (the person who is accused of the crime) and the prosecutor (the attorney representing the local, state, or federal government entity) as a replacement to a jury trial in a criminal case. The agreement usually involves the defendant pleading guilty or nolo contendere, “no contest” to some or all of the charges that were brought against him or her. Typically, plea bargains involve a reduction in the number of charges brought against the defendant, the severity of the charges, a reduction of the severity of the sentence, or a combination of any of the three.
Beneficial or Harmful to Defendants?
There has been much debate over whether or not plea bargains are actually useful and have a place in the realm of criminal justice. In many situations, it would depend on that particular case to determine whether or not a plea bargain could be beneficial to the defendant. In some cases, a plea bargain could actually get a defendant a lesser sentence than what he or she would receive if he or she went to trial. In other cases, a defendant might feel pressured into taking a plea bargain when that might not be the best option for him or her.
However, plea bargains have helped the criminal justice system as a whole in a few ways. The time it takes for a criminal case to come to completion when it involves a plea bargain is far less than when it involves a full jury trial. With less time spent on trials, less money is spent and the case is typically less complicated.
Contact a Rolling Meadows, IL Criminal Defense Lawyer
Being charged with a crime can be a scary and unsettling experience for anyone. Each jurisdiction has its own set of rules, as does each level of government. Rules and laws are different between local, state, and federal courts and it is important that you speak with a knowledgeable Arlington Heights, IL criminal defense attorney for clarification. Scott F. Anderson, Attorney at Law has been successfully defending clients against criminal charges for more than 25 years and can answer any questions you may have about plea bargaining. To schedule a free consultation, call our office today at 847-253-3400.