Most criminal cases in New Jersey end in a plea bargain, and according to the United States Department of Justice, that holds for the country as well. About 9/10 of all criminal cases in the United States also conclude via plea bargain. What does this mean for an individual, and should you accept a plea bargain? Keep reading to learn more about plea bargains and what you need to consider if a prosecutor ever offers you one. Deciding whether or not to take a plea bargain is a big decision, so don’t hesitate to contact a Bergen County criminal defense attorney with decades of experience as soon as you are charged.
In New Jersey, a plea bargain is an agreement between prosecutors and defendants. There are a few ways these agreements can play out.
The defendant might be asked to help with the court’s workload by pleading guilty. Or the prosecutor could ask the defendant to help with a different case by testifying.
In exchange, the prosecutor agrees to lessen the defendant’s punishment. The prosecution might discard some charges and leave others, or present different and lesser charges. The defendant could also ultimately plead guilty to the original charges, after the prosecutor reduces the sentence they are seeking for those charges.
Compared to plea bargains, trials are more complicated. They involve a lot of people and paperwork through various trial hearings as well as pre-and post-trial hearings.
If your lawyer believes you were wrongly accused and that you have a strong case in your favor, then it might serve you better not to accept a plea bargain. Despite this, the prosecution may make it seem like a plea bargain is always in your best interest, as for the prosecutor, a plea bargain represents a “victory” while also reducing their workload.
In reality, you’d most likely be benefitted by accepting in specific situations. Plea bargains can help you avoid a more serious charge, particularly if your lawyer believes the prosecution has a strong case. Plea bargains can also reduce the uncertainty of a trial and give you an unambiguous outcome to work toward. Finally, with a shorter trial, you would also pay less to your lawyer and to the New Jersey court system. If you would like to learn more, or you’re currently charged with a crime and need a lawyer who can effectively fight for your future, please don’t hesitate to contact our legal team today. Your freedom is our number one priority.