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To plea or not to plea? Deciding the merits of a plea bargain

If you are facing criminal charges, at some point it is likely that you will be offered a plea bargain by the prosecution. While plea bargains are vital components of the criminal justice system, they are not right for all cases. Over 90 percent of criminal convictions stem from negotiated pleas, meaning that fewer than ten percent of defendants face an actual trial. Read on to learn if this is a good option for your case.

If there were no plea bargains, our legal system would grind to a halt with all the trials. The dockets don't have enough time or space to allot trials on all criminal charges, and there isn't enough space in the prisons and jails to accommodate all convicted defendants.

Prosecutors like plea bargains because they are assured of convictions. Prosecutors play a numbers game to appease their constituents. Trials are expensive and time-consuming and are never guaranteed to convict defendants. Plea bargains allow them to be tough on crime and get convictions without working too hard.

Prosecutors also use plea bargains to gain the cooperation of a defendant in the prosecution of co-defendants who may be farther up the criminal food chain. They strike a deal with one defendant, and hope that the chips fall in the domino effect.

But why would a defendant decide to cop a plea bargain? Doing so may offer a shorter sentence, or one with no jail time, if the plea includes a reduced charge, e.g., aggravated battery pleaded out as simple battery.

To determine what is the best choice in your situation, discuss the matter thoroughly with your criminal defense attorney.

Source: Findlaw, "Plea Bargain Pros and Cons," accessed June 10, 2016

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Michael J. Thompson, Attorney at Law

16360 Fort Campbell Blvd.
Oak Grove, KY 42262
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Phone: 270-605-0441
Toll Free: 866-397-7788
Fax: 270-439-1177

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