A plea bargain is an agreement between a prosecutor and a defense attorney in which the defendant agrees to plead guilty in exchange for a deal by the prosecutor to drop one or more charges. Prosecutors often offer plea bargains to defendants to clear cases off their desks with a sure conviction. Judges are equally incentivized as the criminal court system becomes ever more crowded, and plea bargains allow cases to move quickly through the system.
In one way, a plea bargain can be a welcome negotiation if you’ve been charged for a crime. Criminal trials can take weeks or months, while guilty pleas take several minutes. A plea bargain also provides you with a sense of surety concerning the result.
Benefits of a Plea Bargain
If you’re being charged for a crime and are offered a plea bargain by the prosecutor, the natural question arises: Should you take it?
Plea bargains are an ordinary resolution for cases in North Carolina for the following reasons:
- Controlled Resolution — Plea bargains allow you to know how the case will be resolved rather than leaving the fate in the hands of a judge.
- Dropped Charges — The prosecutor in the negotiation usually drops some charges.
- Reduced Charges — If you’re facing a serious crime, a reduction in charges is more common.
- Lighter Sentencing — Sentencing guidelines allow for a reduced sentence, particularly in the federal system, for taking responsibility for the crime.
- Faster Case Resolution — Trials can last weeks or months. Once the plea is accepted, you’ll move into the sentencing phase.
Once the terms of the plea negotiations have been established, and the judge has agreed, the defendant will be sentenced. If you agree to the deal, the plea bargain will be put in writing, and you will appear before a judge. The hearings are usually expedited, and the judge will review the plea with the defendant in open court to ensure the defendant is knowingly waiving their rights and making a plea of their own free will. While judges have the power to reject plea bargains, rarely, they do so.
How a Criminal Attorney Can Help
Agreeing to a plea bargain is a serious decision, and you should consult with a skilled attorney to ensure it is your best option. The decision to plead guilty to charges impacts your case’s outcome and substantially impacts your future and reputation. A skilled attorney will provide legal guidance, taking into account the severity of the original charges, and helping you weigh the benefits and downsides of taking the plea bargain.
At Dysart Willis, our attorneys are experienced in guiding clients through the plea bargaining process in North Carolina. We have familiarity with the process, the system, the pros and cons, and the judges who make these decisions.
Our attorneys will make sure you understand all of your options and the potential consequences involved with agreeing to a plea bargain. That way, you can make an informed decision about any plea offers from the prosecution.
Contact Us Today
Plea bargaining should always be done with a defense attorney on your side who is well-versed in the justice system and the facts and circumstances of your case. While plea bargaining has benefits, you always have the right to have your criminal case heard by a jury. An experienced attorney can guide as to whether a plea deal is the best option or if your case is strong enough to win at trial. If you’ve been arrested for a misdemeanor or felony in Raleigh, North Carolina, call Dysart Willis today at 919-747-8380 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation.