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What's a plea bargain and how can it help?

A plea bargain, which is an agreement you make for a penalty that you and prosecution can agree to, can be a lesser punishment than one given by a court if you go to trial. Sometimes, this plea is the best way to avoid prison.

Many DUI attorneys will aim to achieve a plea bargain, because a trial can be unpredictable. With the plea bargain, you would plead guilty in exchange for a lesser charge. For instance, you may say you'll plead guilty to driving under the influence if you can go to an alcohol rehabilitation program instead of prison.

In general, plea bargains are encouraged, because it keeps cases out of the courtroom, leaving them open for more serious cases. Plea bargaining can also help keep people out of jails or prisons, which are, at present, overburdened.

Unless you can prove that you were innocent or have a good chance of winning your case, the benefits of a plea bargain may outweigh the risk of going to trial. Here's how it works. Take for example a situation where you were driving under the influence and face a DUI charge. The prosecuting attorney may offer a less serious charge, like an open container violation, if you plead guilty and agree to go to an alcohol addiction program.

Normally, a plea bargain must be accepted within a reasonable amount of time, but there are situations where an actual expiration will be set. That can happen when time is of the essence; for instance, if the case has an upcoming court date, the plea may need to be accepted before then.

Source: FindLaw, "DUI Plea Bargains," accessed Nov. 09, 2015

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