What are Plea Bargains in Georgia?
There are many ways a case can get resolved: through trial, negotiations, dismissal, or plea bargains. Not all cases have to go to trial to reach a conclusion. Voluminous criminal cases are resolved through a plea bargain, which occurs before the case goes to trial. Some criminal lawyers do not like to go to trial, so they will encourage plea bargains even if they do not provide the best result for their client. At Lawson and Berry, our Georgia Criminal Defense Attorneys are just as comfortable going to trial as negotiating a plea bargain. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.
How are Plea Bargains Made?
Plea bargains are negotiated by you or your attorney with the prosecutor's office. Your attorney works with them to reach a resolution in your case. There are several different ways in which a plea bargain can be achieved:
- The prosecutor works out an agreement where you plead guilty to a less serious charge. An example of this is when Bill is accused of murder. The prosecutor may let Bill plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter, which doesn't carry as severe consequences as murder.
- If you are charged with multiple crimes or multiple counts of one crime, the prosecutor may agree to let you plead guilty to one of the offenses or one of the counts in exchange for dropping the other charges.
After the prosecutor and defendant or defendant's attorney work out a plea agreement, the prosecutor presents the agreement to the judge. The judge is not involved in any part of the plea agreement, so it must be presented to him for approval. The prosecutor cannot force the judge to accept the plea agreement even though it was agreed upon between both parties. Judges want to make sure that the defendant (1) knowingly waived their rights (2) voluntarily waived their rights and (3) there is a factual basis to support the charges to which the defendant is pleading guilty. If all three components are satisfied, then they will likely accept the recommendation by the prosecutor.
Reasons Why Plea Bargains are Encouraged
Plea bargains have incentives for every party involved. For prosecutors, it helps alleviate their caseload without spending hours, days, or weeks in trial. Judges like plea bargains because it frees up their docket for other cases. Furthermore, it can be helpful for defendants who either have representation or do not have representation. For defendants, plea bargaining can save them time and money they would have had to spend on hiring an attorney to represent them during the trial.
Do I Need an Attorney?
Any agreement made needs to be well thought out and considered by both you and an attorney. Plea-bargaining is not as easy as it seems and it requires technical knowledge of crimes as well as an understanding of sentencing guidelines for crimes. Without legal training, it is very difficult to make an appropriate bargain while preserving your rights. A competent and experienced criminal defense attorney can negotiate the best plea on your behalf.
Our attorneys are all highly knowledgeable and experienced in criminal law. They will walk you through every step of the process and answer all your questions promptly. Contact our offices today for a free case evaluation.