What is a plea deal and what's the incentive in taking one?

Although trial dates get set, most never happen. That's because most cases end up being resolved via a plea deal instead.

Plea deals, also known as plea bargains, are often encouraged by judges as a way to clear up space on their court calendars so that they can more expeditiously hear other cases. They're also championed by judges because they oftentimes have a way of helping keep jails from becoming overcrowded.

From the perspective of the prosecutor, offering a plea deal allows him or her an opportunity to avoid having to invest significant time and resources into both preparing for and then arguing a case at trial. Offering a plea deal also allows them to receive a definitive conviction in a case as opposed to either a judge or jury deciding to acquit the defendant.

A case that goes to trial can be costly for the defendant as well. If the defendant is appointed a public defender, then he or she may find that his or her attorney is overworked and underpaid. This may make it where their interests are not adequately represented at trial.

Costs involved in investigating, preparing for and actually representing a client at trial can quickly mount. Having your own private attorney go to the prosecution and broker a deal in the case can be less costly in terms of both sentencing and money.

In negotiating a plea deal, one factor that's going to impact how discussions go is how serious the crime committed was and whether there's a related, lesser charge that can be found that you can plea to.

Since the burden falls on the prosecution to prove their case against you, how strong the evidence is will also impact whether a plea deal can be worked out or not. How confident a prosecutor is that he or she can secure a guilty verdict will also play an important role in determining whether a plea deal offer is extended.

Plea deals, in some cases, can result in a felony charge being reduced to a misdemeanor. Whether you've been charged with drunk and disorderly conduct or some other crime, a Christianburg, Virginia criminal defense attorney can advise you as to whether accepting a plea deal may be ideal in your case. However, the decision to take a plea deal is ultimately up to you.

Source: FindLaw, "Plea bargains overview," accessed Dec. 08, 2017

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