If you have been charged with a crime, you may expect the next stop to be a trial where your fate is placed in the hands of a jury. However, you may be surprised to learn that only about 10% of cases actually go to trial. A whopping 90% of all other criminal charges are adjudicated with plea bargains. A plea bargain is an agreement reached between the prosecution and the defendant, in which the defendant agrees to plead guilty or no contest in exchange for a lesser charge, reduced sentence, or a specific punishment.
The Benefits of a Plea Bargain
Plea bargains remove the uncertainty of a trial for defendants. In a trial, a defendant has no idea what the outcome will be. Even if they know that they are innocent, they can face steep penalties, and they have no way of knowing which way the jury will rule. Plea bargaining allows them to manage the risk, by knowing exactly what they are pleading to and what their sentence will be.
Plea bargains also have the benefit of easing up the case load on an overburdened legal system. If 100% of cases had to go to trial, many defendants would have to wait years in prison just for their first hearing date (although even with only 10% of cases going to trial this is still a sad reality for many).
Plea bargains also allow prosecutors to keep less serious offenders out of prison, by having them plead guilty in exchange for probation. In some cases, the prosecution may offer a less serious charge in exchange for a guilty plea and probation. In other cases, the prosecution may wish to avoid a costly trial by offering a set sentence, such as eight years in prison, when the defendant could face up to 20 or 30 years in prison if they were to go to trial.
Can a Lawyer Help Me Get a Plea Bargain?
The best way to get a plea bargain is with the help of an attorney to advocate for you and negotiate on your behalf. Not having a dedicated lawyer to represent your interests means that you run the risk of missing an opportunity for a reduced charge or lesser sentence, and you may be more susceptible to accepting a deal that is not actually in your best interest. Only an experienced defense attorney is qualified to weigh the risks of going to trial against the deal that is being offered to help you make the decision that is in your best interest. The sooner that you retain counsel, the sooner that they can start working on your behalf to have your charges dismissed, reduced, or to negotiate a potential plea bargain.
Contact Ghanayem & Rayasam Law in Atlanta, Georgia
If you are facing criminal charges in Atlanta, Georgia, it is important to have a dedicated criminal defense lawyer on your side to get you the best deal possible. Contact the criminal defense attorneys at Ghanayem & Rayasam Law today for a case evaluation.