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Should you accept a plea bargain?

If you face criminal charges in Connecticut, chances are that the prosecutor will offer your attorney a plea bargain. But should you accept it? Obviously that depends on the exact nature of the plea bargain and the things you must agree to do.

FindLaw explains that a plea bargain represents an agreement that the prosecutor and your attorney negotiate. Naturally, both sides are seeking the best deal possible.

Plea bargain types

In general, plea bargains fall into the following three categories:

  1. Charge bargains: The prosecutor agrees to reduce your charges; you agree to plead guilty to the reduced charges.
  2. Sentence bargains: The prosecutor agrees to recommend a reduced sentence; you agree to plead guilty to the original charges.
  3. Fact bargains: The prosecutor agrees to refrain from bringing up certain facts at trial; your attorney agrees to stipulate that certain other facts are true.

Plea bargain advantages

Possibly the biggest advantage a plea bargain presents you is that it saves you the time and expense of a jury trial and gets your case disposed of as quickly as possible. In addition, you know what to expect.

Plea bargain disadvantages

As you likely know, the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees you the right to a jury trial. If you accept a plea bargain, you give up that right. In addition, accepting either a charge or a sentence plea bargain will require you to verbally plead guilty in open court to the crimes charged. And with regard to a sentence plea bargain, you need to understand that the prosecutor only agreed to recommend a lighter sentence. (S)he did not agree, nor could (s)he, that the judge will heed the recommendation. Judges have the power and authority to set whatever sentence they deem appropriate, as long as it does not run afoul of whatever guidelines apply. Finally, since you will have pleaded guilty, this makes it more difficult for you to overturn your conviction on appeal.

This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.

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