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What should I know about plea bargains?

Some people who are facing criminal charges want to get the matter taken care of quickly. Generally, it is much faster for a defendant to resolve a criminal matter through a plea deal instead of having to go through the trial process. Another option is to plead guilty to all the charges against you, which enables the judge to hand down a sentence to resolve your case.

How does a plea deal differ from a regular guilty plea?

The major difference between a plea deal and a regular guilty plea is that a plea deal comes with some favorable points for your side of the case. If you opt to plead guilty without a plea bargain, you are relying on the judge's discretion for your sentence.

What are some points that can be included in a plea deal?

There are several different points that can be included in a plea deal. These include the sentence you will receive and the charges that you face. It is possible for a plea deal to include lesser charges in exchange for you pleading guilty to those lesser charges. It is also possible for a plea deal to include a specific sentence if you plead guilty. You should know that the ultimate decision about the plea bargain is up to the judge. The judge presiding over the case can deny the plea deal.

Understanding your options when it comes to resolving your criminal case can help you decide which avenue you want to pursue. You should think about how each option affects you now and in the future before settling on one option. Your attorney can advise you on whether to accept a plea bargain, but the choice is ultimately yours.

Source: New York State Unified Court System, "Criminal Justice System Handbook," accessed July 20, 2016

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