Many people have most likely heard the term “plea bargain,” but you may not be familiar with what the term means. If you don’t keep up with popular cases in the news or watch any true crime documentaries, legal talk may not be a strong suit. However, the concept is not as difficult as it may sound.
Plea Bargains Before Trial
If you’re facing a criminal law trial, you can choose between 3 main types of plea bargains you can choose between.
1. Charge Bargaining
Charge bargaining is the type of plea you’d use if you want to plead guilty but to a lesser charge. For example, if you face charges for first- or second-degree murder, you can attempt a charge bargain to plead guilty to a less serious charge, like manslaughter. However, charge bargaining may not always be an option for more serious crimes. A charge bargain plea is better for situations like getting a robbery charge dropped to a trespassing charge, or something similar.
2. Sentence Bargaining
Sentence bargaining is the type of plea bargain you will commonly see in movies. Sentence bargaining consists of a guilty or no contest plea, but to certain terms. For example, to avoid a long, drawn-out trial, you could be offered a lesser sentence (e.g. no death penalty, time served, less jail time) in exchange for your guilty plea.
3. Count Bargaining
Count bargaining is uncommon compared to the other two types of plea bargains but is similar to a charge bargain. Count bargaining occurs when you plead guilty to the lesser charge instead of the multiple original charges. For example, if you face charges for breaking and entering, robbery, and trespassing, you would plead guilty to the trespassing charge and the
others would be dropped.
Plea Options for Trial
If you and your attorney decided it was in your best interest to skip the plea bargains and take your case to trial, you have a few different plea options.
Not Guilty Plea
A not guilty plea is what you may do if you and your attorney are sure that you have enough evidence on your side to win the case. Not guilty pleas can be risky because if you are found guilty in the end, your sentence could end up being harsher than it would have been if you would have pled guilty and taken a plea bargain earlier on in the case. Depending on how
strong your case is, your attorney may advise against this.
A guilty plea is common in plea bargains. If you start a trial with a not-guilty plea but end up pleading guilty later on, this will technically mean that you are admitting you committed the crime. If you do plead guilty, this will typically mean there is no need for a trial, and it will end.
No Contest Plea
A no contest plea is a way for you to avoid saying you are guilty of committing the crime. If you plead no contest, you are accepting the charges and sentence while denying the guilt. No contest pleas will generally receive the same sentence as a guilty plea would receive. The main reason to choose a no contest plea is to avoid the technical admission of guilt.
An insanity plea is not common and can be hard to prove. To plead insanity, experts will have to determine that, due to mental health, you were experiencing insanity at the time of the crime. If it is determined that you were mentally unfit at the time of the crime, you will legally not be guilty of the crime. Most insanity pleas will call for long-term treatment
instead of jail time.
If you are experiencing a criminal law case or trial, contact us at Daniels, Long, and Pinsel, LLC, for a free consultation.