Houston Criminal Law Blog


Plea Bargains: The Pros and Cons

The vast majority of criminal cases result in a plea bargain. A plea bargain is a mutual agreement between the defense and prosecution that is beneficial to both sides. In exchange for the defendant’s plea of guilty, the prosecutor accepts a lighter charge or sentence.

After both sides agree on a plea deal, the presiding judge must accept the plea. A plea bargain is a satisfactory result for the judge and prosecutor because it lightens their caseload.

Reasons to Accept a Plea Bargain

A defendant’s reasons to accept a plea agreement are generally different than a prosecutor’s. A defendant may choose to accept a plea agreement for any of the following reasons:

  • A plea agreement usually results in a lesser charge or shorter amount of time to serve in confinement
  • No trial is necessary for a plea agreement
  • With some agreements, the defendant knows his or her sentence right away
  • Criminal cases are resolved quicker with plea agreements than with trials

Many defendants will agree to a plea bargain if it specifically lists the punishment. The plea tells the defendant how long he or she will remain in jail, the fines and costs to pay and if any probation will be required. For some people, knowing the end result is less stressful than allowing a judge to craft a sentence.

Reasons to Reject a Plea Bargain

A plea bargain requires the defendant to admit that he or she is guilty of committing a crime. The crime becomes a conviction and will be placed on his or her criminal record. People who have a criminal record may have trouble seeking employment or obtaining an education.

To discuss the merits of a specific plea or for help negotiating a plea agreement, contact The Law Office of Matthew D. Sharp today for a free consultation.

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