Plea Bargains

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Plea Bargains

Ashley Williams

Axia University of Phoenix

CJS 220

Pleas bargains are offered throughout the justice system everyday, in various types of cases. “Nearly 95% of all felony cases never reach a jury. They are settled through pleas bargains in which a defendant agrees to plea guilty in exchange for a reduced sentence.” (PBS, 2004).

An agreement in a criminal case whereby the prosecutor offers the defendant the opportunity to plead guilty, usually to a lesser charge or to the original criminal charge with a recommendation of a lighter than the maximum sentence. Most criminal defendants are offered plea bargain. A plea bargain gives criminal defendants the opportunity to avoid sitting through a trial risking conviction on the original more serious charge.

There are two types of pleas bargains; a charge bargain and a sentence bargain. A "charge bargain" occurs when the prosecutor allows a defendant to "plead guilty to a lesser charge," or to only some of the charges that have been filed against him. For example, a defendant charged with burgarly may be offered the opportunity to plead guilty to "attempted burglary." A defendant charged with Drunk Driving and Driving With License Suspended may be offered the opportunity to plead guilty to just the drunk driving charge. A "sentence bargain" occurs when a defendant is told in advance what his sentence will be if he pleads guilty. This can help a prosecutor obtain a conviction if, for example, a defendant is facing serious charges and is afraid of being hit with the "maximum" sentence. Typically, sentence bargains can only be granted if they are approved by the trial judge. Many jurisdictions severely limit sentence bargaining. Sentence bargaining sometimes occurs in high profile cases, where the prosecutor does not want to reduce the charges against the defendant, usually for fear…...

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