Statistics show that nearly 90 percent of all criminal cases across the country — including many here in Alabama — never go to trial. Instead, prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys negotiate a plea bargain. In many cases, this provides an individual facing serious repercussions with a guaranteed outcome that often involves lesser charges and fewer penalties.
The uncertainty of the outcome of criminal proceedings can be frightening. Not having to go through a trial in which the outcome is not set is one of the most compelling reasons to enter into a plea bargain. In many cases, the individual’s attorney is able to negotiate the charges down and possibly even have some charges dismissed (if multiple charges are filed). Reduced charges often means reduced penalties that could even keep a person from spending time in jail or prison. In other cases, it will reduce the amount of time that person will have to be incarcerated.
Entering into a plea bargain can also shorten the process. It can take a significant amount of time to get to trial, and during that time, many people are forced to put their lives on hold. A quicker end to the process can allow a person to get back to his or her life faster. The accused individual could also be able to avoid the cost and time needed to go to trial.
Whether a plea bargain is right for a particular individual depends on a myriad of circumstances. No Alabama resident should agree to enter into such agreement without first consulting with a criminal defense attorney. He or she will be able to review the circumstances surrounding the charges, ensure that the accused individual’s rights were — and are — protected, and advise whether any deal proposed by prosecutors would be in that person’s best interests.
Source: FindLaw, “Defense Plea Bargains“, Accessed on Sept. 17, 2016