Many people in Colorado are under the impression that if they ever commit a crime, they will receive a plea bargain that results in a dismissal or reduction in the charge. While it often happens that way in the movies and on television, it doesn't always happen that way in real life. However, that does not mean someone should reject the idea of a plea bargain without consideration.
There are some facts about plea bargains that anyone facing a criminal charge should be aware of.
Plea bargain basics
Plea bargains are an exchange agreement between two parties: the prosecution and the defendant. Rather than argue the case before the judge, the prosecution may recommend a lesser sentence in exchange for the defendant's plea of no contest.
In the eyes of the law, accepting a plea deal is the same as an admission of guilt. Even if a prosecutor believes that the defendant may deserve a harsher sentence, he or she may realize that there is not enough evidence to obtain that conviction, or it may simply be that the court docket is full and it will save time and money to make the deal instead. Either way, if the defendant accepts the deal, the prosecution wins.
Bringing the case to a close quickly can also benefit the defendant. For example, accepting an immediate and lesser penalty can be preferable to risking the possibility of harsher one should the defendant be convicted at trial.
If the potential benefits of the offer from the prosecution do not outweigh the risks of going to trial, the defendant does not have to accept the deal. Negotiation may be an option. In fact, when defendants have evidence that law enforcement violated their rights, or they have some other possible defense, they may still want to use that to negotiate a better deal rather than taking their chances in court.
In any event, the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney can prove invaluable in understanding one's legal options.