What is a plea bargain?
I got a question from a potential client the other day and we began talking about the possibility of taking a plea bargain. This person wasn’t exactly sure what that meant and I got to thinking that perhaps many others are not entirely sure of what a plea bargain entails either. A plea bargain is essentially the accused entering a guilty plea (sometimes for a lesser crime) in exchange for lesser charges. If you have questions about plea bargaining or crimes with which you have been charged, then contact criminal defense attorney Gary E. Gerson for a free preliminary consultation today. Usually, the sentence is also reduced and it has become a popular tool used within the criminal justice system as a way to move things along, as well as reduce overcrowding in county jails. Plea bargaining is mostly used in misdemeanor cases as a way for the charged to put criminal acts behind them as quickly and as efficiently as possible. However, when it comes to plea bargains in federal court, the process can be tricky. Federal guidelines for sentencing in the United States do not provide much flexibility for plea bargaining. In fact, the mandatory minimum sentencing for crimes related to drugs and murder often eradicate the option for a plea bargain. There are also some crimes where a plea bargain is forbade by law. In addition, there are restrictions on lawyers who want to make plea agreements for civil and/or tax liability reasons. Attorneys are also unable to pursue the death penalty in an effort to gain more desired talking points for a plea bargain. Despite these strict rules, there are cases that go to federal court that can be plea bargained. However, just because a plea bargain is possible does not necessarily mean that it will be sanctioned. For example, a 2013 Pennsylvania case involving one defendant in particular found the details of that defendant’s attorney’s plea to be an extreme reduction in sentencing because of the public service he had provided despite his malfeasance. Instead, the judge decided that the time in jail plead for wasn’t nearly enough time for the crimes committed, and so the judge struck the plea down. The defendant in question was then given the option of staying true to his admission of lesser crimes and then taking what sentence the judge found more palpable, or letting the case go to trial.