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What is a Plea Bargain?

a yellow sign with the word plea bargain on it

A plea bargain is an agreement between the defendant and prosecutor that involves the prosecutor recommending a lighter sentence or bringing less serious charges in exchange for the defendant pleading guilty. According to the Department of Justice, 90 percent to 95 percent of all cases are resolved through plea-bargaining. Some defendants choose no contest or nolo contendere instead of a guilty plea. With criminal cases on the rise, both options prevent overcrowding in the courts and present a chance for both parties to come to an agreement outside of court.

What Is the Difference Between Nolo Contendere and a Guilty Plea?

Nolo contendere is ultimately not an admission of guilt. It will show up on a defendant’s criminal record and essentially says the defendant opts out of contesting the charges. However, it will not be used against the defendant in a future civil proceeding. On the other hand, a guilty plea is an admission of guilt and can be later used as evidence of such.

What Is the Process to Obtain Plea Bargain?

Plea-bargaining can occur during any stage of the criminal justice process. It can be negotiated as early as the day a defendant is charged and as late as just before a jury announces its verdict. Usually, the opposing counsel will reach out to your attorney with any sort of negotiation. Your attorney will then consult you with your options, and give you the authority to make the decision whether you choose to accept the plea bargain or not.

When Should I Accept a Plea Bargain?

Knowing when to accept a plea bargain is an important step. Most likely, you are in a situation of facing charges or arrest and the stress can take a toll on your judgment. However, you need to make sure like any other negotiation, plea bargain makes sense in your particular situation. In order to avoid rash decisions, you can ask yourself these questions before accepting any sort of a deal:

  • Have you consulted with an attorney to find a better alternative?
  • Have you considered all possible options in front of you?
  • Is the plea bargain really in your best interest?
  • Can you counter the negotiation offer with an alternative offer?

In any criminal case, explore all of your options. A lawyer can ensure that you fully understand the implications of your choices and also result in the offer of a more favorable plea agreement than you would obtain on your own.

Contact a Florida Criminal Defense Attorney Today to Schedule a Free Consultation

If you are trying to negotiate a plea bargain or nolo contendere with the opposing party, have an attorney make sure it is the right option for you. At Khonsari Law Group, we are committed to representing the rights of people accused of crimes and do everything we can to bring each case to a favorable resolution. Call us today at (727) 269-5300 for a free consultation or send us an email through our online contact form.

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