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Definition of Plea Bargain

A plea bargain is offered to a defendant by the prosecutor as an incentive to get the defendant to plead guilty or no contest. Plea bargaining allows the prosecutor to obtain a plea in cases that might otherwise go to trial.

There are two types of plea bargains: charge bargains and a sentence bargain. If the defendant makes a charge bargain and they are an alleged murderer they may be able to plea bargain their charge down to manslaughter. The second type of plea bargain is a sentence bargain which allows for the maximum charge but the lowest possible penalty for that charge. These agreements are monitored by the courts and generally are offered for testimony against another perpetrator.

Plea bargains allow our justice system to avoid getting overloaded, although critics of the current plea bargaining system argue they allow criminals to avoid serving their full sentences while allowing other alleged criminals, who may have been found not guilty if they had taken their criminal case to trial, to end up serving a sentence. If you have committed a crime and offered a plea bargain you should talk to your criminal lawyer before accepting any type of plea.

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