How do plea bargains work?

Have you been arrested for a suspected criminal offense in Pennsylvania? If so, you are well aware of the uncertainty that can accompany a criminal offense and process. Especially if this is your first time dealing with the criminal justice system, you can understandably wonder how the defense process works. One element of some criminal defenses is known as a plea bargain. Depending upon your situation, it may be appropriate for you to utilize this.

As the name implies, a plea bargain involves some type of deal in your criminal case. As the American Bar Association explains, it is an agreement made between the prosecution and the defense. Exactly how you plead in the case is an integral component of any such agreement. Generally speaking, defendants who enter into plea bargains agree to plead guilty to a particular charge. That charge is most commonly less severe than what a person could be charged with. An example of this would be the difference between a first degree crime and a second or third degree crime.

One of the benefits of a plea bargain is that the penalties may be less severe than those that may result if a trial conviction for a harsher crime were to be eventually achieved. Criminal consequences get tougher as the severity of charges increase. Plea bargains may need to be approved by a judge. If approved, they may expedite the process of dealing with a criminal case and lower the costs involved for both sides.

This information is not intended to provide legal advice but general information about criminal plea bargaining in Pennsylvania.

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