Charged With A Crime? 4 Elements You Can Plea Bargain

One of the most important tools you have as a defendant charged with a crime is the plea bargain. Plea bargaining — negotiating with prosecutors for a guilty or no contest plea in exchange for some kind of reduction in penalty — can help you avoid a stressful trial, gain a better outcome, and know what you face. 

But what can you bargain with prosecutors about? Here are four types of plea bargaining and what they can do to help you. 

1. Sentence Bargaining

To bargain for a lower sentence is one of the most common forms. Consider a defendant who has been charged with causing a car accident while drunk. If they agree to waive their right to trial and enter a guilty/no contest plea — saving the state time and money — the prosecution may recommend the lowest sentence applicable to their charge. 

2. Charge Bargaining

Many defendants are charged with more than one individual crime, or count. These counts may vary in name or in category. 

The drunk driver might, for example, be charged with both driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while impaired (DWI). In some states, DWI is more serious and can come with higher penalties than DUI. You might, then, bargain to plead guilty to the lesser charge if the greater one is dropped. 

3. Count Bargaining

As mentioned, many cases include multiple counts. A variation on charge bargaining is to negotiate over which counts (and how many) you will agree to plead guilty/no contest to. 

Fewer counts can mean less jail time or a lower fine. Some of these counts may also be misdemeanors rather than felonies, leading to lower penalties as well. And if your state applies 'three strikes' rules, you can whittle down the number of strikes for this incident. 

4. Fact Bargaining

Finally, there is a fairly rare form of plea bargain known as fact bargaining. To do this, the defendant and prosecutor negotiate over some element of the crime that would — by its nature — cause higher penalties. 

Fact bargaining may or may not be allowed by the court because it revises history, as it were. If the drunk driver had passengers who were minors, they could face increased charges related to this aggravating factor. The prosecution might agree not to pursue this element in exchange for a guilty plea to the DWI alone. 

Where Can You Learn More?

A plea bargain could help you secure the least possible penalties for one or more crimes with which you've been charged. Find out how by meeting with an experienced criminal defense law firm in your state today. For more information, contact a firm like Baber & Baber, P.C. Attorneys at Law.