When you are guilty of a crime but don’t want to place your fate in a jury’s hands, you might try to get a plea agreement. In this case, you and the prosecution would come to an agreement about how you will plead in the case and how the prosecution will respond to the plea. There are three key points that can be included in plea agreements.
The first point is one that isn’t used very often. It is fact bargaining. In this case, you would have to agree to admit to specific facts in the case so that the prosecution wouldn’t have to prove them. In exchange for that admission, the prosecution wouldn’t bring up other facts in the trial. This wouldn’t help you to control the outcome of the case, but it can prove useful if you are going to take your case to trial.
The second point is charge bargaining. In this case, the prosecution would agree to reduce your charges in exchange for a guilty plea. For example, a murder charge might be downgraded to manslaughter if you agree to plead guilty to manslaughter. The court would have to approve this type of plea bargain.
The third point is sentence bargaining. In this case, you would agree to plead guilty to a charge. In exchange for that, the prosecution would agree to seek a specific sentence in your case. This might help you to get a lighter sentence.
It is possible to combine more than one of these points in a plea bargain. If you are considering a plea bargain, you should make sure that you fully understand how the plea might affect you in the criminal justice system and the rest of your life.
Source: FindLaw, “Plea Bargaining: Areas of Negotiation,” accessed Feb. 12, 2016