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Why do courts offer plea bargains?

Typically, a plea bargain means you have to plead guilty. If you do so, you are offered a sentence that is not as harsh as the one you may have received otherwise. You may be able to plead your way into lesser charges.

For example, if facing murder charges, you may be able to take a plea bargain that gives you manslaughter charges. If facing jail time for a drug offense, you may be able to use a plea bargain to get probation and fines without the jail time.

On your end of things, some of the advantages appear clear. If you feel that you will get convicted and you really just want to get the best possible sentence, then a plea bargain may allow you to do so. It also saves money and time. It streamlines the process.

But why would the court let you take a plea bargain in the first place? Wouldn't they want to push for the maximum sentence on the original charges?

Many other countries do take this approach. In the United States, however, plea bargains are largely a response to how crowded the legal system has become. The courts are happy to move some cases through quickly, especially when they are considered more minor cases, in order to focus on getting through the serious cases and the backlog.

If you are wondering if a plea bargain is right for you, it is important to note that every case is unique. You must understand all of the legal rights you have, what options you get in court and what steps you can take.

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Joseph S. Friedberg Chartered

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