Plea bargaining consists of two types: sentence bargaining and charge bargaining. In exchange for a plea of guilty or no contest by the defendant, the prosecutor may recommend a lighter sentence or may drop charges to a less serious offense.
95% of all cases end in a plea-bargain. Plea-bargaining is an excellent way to avoid a potential stiff conviction in favor of an agreed upon lighter conviction. For instance, in a drug possession case, a judge may be convinced to dismiss the charges in return for the defendant's successful completion of a rehabilitation program. Some judges and prosecutors are amenable to plea-bargaining, whereas others are not. Plea bargaining enables the judges to move cases through the legal process, and prosecutors to rack up convictions.
8 things to consider when considering a plea bargain:
- A judge-approved guilty or no contest plea bargain may result in a criminal conviction.
- The conviction will show up on your criminal record.
- The defendant may lose rights and privileges as if the defendant were convicted after trial. For example, a convicted felon loses his 2nd Amendment Right to possess a firearm FOR LIFE!
- A plea bargain conviction may result in immigration consequences such as deportation and exclusion from re-admission to the USA for illegal aliens and LPR's (Lawful Permanent Residents).
- A no contest plea has the same force and effect of a guilty plea, the only difference is that it cannot be used against you in a civil proceeding arising out of the same circumstances as those of the criminal charge.
- A guilty plea serves as an admission of guilt.
- A plea bargain may result in a lighter sentence and completes the matter quickly.
- Probation, and the costs associated, will likely be imposed. Again, keep in mind the immigration and non-immigration consequences associated with a plea and conviction. For example, one who is applying for citizenship or even a position in a law enforcement capacity, will not be able to do so if on probation.
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