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Plea Bargaining in Criminal Cases
Although plea bargaining is often criticized, more than 90 percent of criminal convictions come from negotiated pleas. Thus, less than ten percent of criminal cases go to trial. Plea negotiations have become a central part of every criminal case. So, what are the incentives behind plea bargaining? Below is a look from the points of view of different players in the criminal justice system.
Judges and Plea Bargaining
For judges, the key incentive for accepting a plea bargain is to alleviate the need to schedule and hold pre-trial motion hearings and a trial on an already overcrowded docket. Judges usually offer lesser penalties and lower sentences to encourage plea bargains.
Prosecutors and Plea Bargaining
For prosecutors, a lighter caseload is equally attractive. But more importantly, plea bargaining assures a conviction, even if it is for a lesser charge or crime. No matter how strong the evidence may be, no case is a foregone conclusion. Prosecutors often wage long and expensive trials but lose.
Moreover, prosecutors may use plea bargaining to further their case against a co-defendant. They may accept a plea bargain arrangement from one defendant in return for damaging testimony against another. This way, they are assured of at least one conviction (albeit on a lesser charge) plus enhanced chances of winning a conviction against the second defendant.
Defendants and Plea Bargaining
For a defendant in a criminal case, plea bargaining provides the opportunity for a lighter sentence on a less severe charge, and to have fewer (or less serious) offenses listed on a criminal record. If they are represented by private counsel, defendants also save the monetary costs of a lengthy trial by accepting a plea bargain. Lastly, first time offenders are given the opportunity to have their records expunged in exchange for a plea.
Do not accept a plea bargain until you have consulted a skilled lawyer!
If you have been arrested or contacted by law enforcement, contact New Orleans Criminal Defense Attorney Elizabeth B. Carpenter. Ms. Carpenter has the skill and experience you need to effectuate a strong defense.
Elizabeth B. Carpenter Law Firm is a premier litigation law group focusing onNew Orleans Criminal Defense, DWI Defense, New Orleans Cyber Crimes Defense and Personal Injury Law. Each client is offered the individual attention and personal touch of a high end boutique law firm. We are extremely selective in the cases that we accept. Our firm is built on the foundation that every client deserves to be treated with dignity and compassion regardless of the legal issues they are battling.
We have obtained an overwhelming number of dismissals and acquittals in difficult cases involving well respected individuals, especially in cases where allegations are made against teachers, doctors, nurses and financial advisors. The outstanding results we achieve are largely due to the fact that we limit the number of cases we take which allows us to conduct thorough investigations, employ an aggressive pretrial motion practice and use innovative trial preparation tools. Our impressive achievements show why we are a top New Orleans law firm. We work hard to protect the interests of our clients, from the first meeting to the final verdict.