Most criminal cases involve plea bargaining between prosecutors and the defense attorneys who negotiate on behalf of their clients. Prosecutors are often eager to avoid the time, work and expense of a trial, while defense attorneys representing people who have some culpability for the crime they’re accused of want to mitigate the consequences to their freedom and future.
An experienced criminal defense attorney can work to negotiate the best possible deal for their client. The defendant, however, has to agree to any deal that’s negotiated, as does a judge.
The most common areas of negotiation
Plea bargaining most often centers around two areas of negotiation: the charges and the sentence. Prosecutors may offer to lessen the severity of the charge or dismiss some charges completely if the defendant is willing to plead guilty rather than go to trial. This can often mean the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor charge.
Sometimes the plea bargaining centers around the sentence that prosecutors seek. A defense attorney can try to lessen the amount of time their client will serve or prevent them from serving time completely.
Why your attorney needs to know all the facts of the case
Just as in any negotiation, the first offer is typically not the best the prosecution can do. It may well just be a starting point. Before your attorney begins plea bargaining, it’s essential that they know all of the facts of the case, the evidence against their client and the complete truth.
That’s just one reason why you need to be honest with your attorney and not withhold any information. This will help them get you the best possible plea deal.