Though most procedural television shows revolve around two lawyers arguing the finer points of law in a criminal court, the reality is that most criminal cases end in a plea bargain between the accused and the public prosecutor. Florida residents may know that a plea bargain is an agreement reached between the prosecutor and the defendant where the latter pleads guilty to either reduced charges or the associated sentence.
Plea bargains are generally of three types. Charge bargaining is the most common, in which the defendant pleads guilty to lesser charges in exchange for the higher charges getting dropped. For example, someone would plead guilty to manslaughter rather than murder. Sentence bargaining is another form of plea bargaining, whereby the defendant gets a lighter sentence in exchange for pleading guilty to the stated charge. This type of plea bargain is a tightly controlled one, and some states do not allow it. The least common type of plea bargaining is known as fact bargaining, in which a defendant agrees to stipulate to some facts in return for other facts not being introduced into evidence.
There are many reasons a defendant may agree to enter into a plea bargain, the most important being to avoid the uncertainty of a trial. In addition to this, it also avoids the cost, both emotional and financial, of going through a trial. This does not mean that a plea deal works for everyone though and it is important to assess every individual's circumstances to determine if a plea bargain is the right option for them.
In addition to determining if a plea bargain is best for one's circumstances, an experienced criminal law lawyer can also help people understand the terms of the agreement. If either side fails to live up to their side of the agreement, it is possible the agreement becomes void or the offer gets revoked. Consulting an experienced attorney for guidance may be one way for accused individuals to ensure their rights are being protected.