In the majority of criminal cases, plea bargaining is an element. This is because it can be advantageous for both the defense and the prosecution to resolve criminal cases through dealings rather than through the court.
Ultimately, you may decide to take a plea bargain or to not take one: there is no one-size-fits-all answer to whether or not plea bargaining is good for any one particular case. However, there are three main facets of bargaining that are common in plea deals. According to FindLaw, these negotiation areas are charge, sentence and fact bargaining.
Which is the most common?
Charge bargaining is the most common form of plea bargain, as well as the most well-known. Essentially, this negotiation involves the defendant pleading guilty to a lesser charge in order to avoid harsher criminal penalties.
A common example would be a defendant pleading guilty to a manslaughter charge in order to avoid a murder charge. It is also common for defendants to plead guilty to misdemeanor crimes in order to avoid them becoming “aggravated,” and thus felonious, crimes.
When are sentence and fact bargaining used?
Sentence bargaining is when the defendant agrees to plead guilty to the stated charge in return for a lighter sentence. This is different from charge bargaining as there is no lessening of the original charge, and only a lessening of the penalty attached to it.
Fact bargaining is the least-common variety of plea bargaining. With fact bargaining, a defendant agrees to admit that certain parts of the prosecutor’s case are true in return for the prosecutor not introducing other facts into evidence. This means the prosecutor does not need to spend time proving those facts.