In some criminal cases in Colorado, the first impulse of a person charged with a crime is to fight the case all the way to a jury trial if necessary. And, in fact, this is a viable option in some cases. However, the frank reality is that, in America, the vast majority of criminal cases end in a plea bargain of some kind. So, what exactly happens during plea negotiations in a criminal case?
Well, typically the starting point is that the defense attorney and prosecutor talk about the case, the evidence and the suspect’s potential willingness to enter a guilty plea. For the prosecution, there are several benefits to securing a defendant’s guilty plea in a negotiated deal, but the main benefit is that it saves time and resources. Defense attorneys know this and, as an incentive for a defendant to plead guilty, most prosecutors are willing to either drop some of the charges in the case or agree to recommend a lesser sentence to the court. As a result, many prosecutors will focus on attempting to offer a “fair” deal to defendants, in order to avoid drawn out negotiations.
The back-and-forth between the two sides, however, can generate multiple scenarios for the charged defendant to consider. But, what are the benefits for a defendant to enter into a plea bargain?
For the most part, defendants want to consider plea bargains when they are willing to admit that they made a mistake which violated the law, and they just want to move on with their lives. Drunk driving cases, for example, are oftentimes the result of one-time failures in judgment. A plea bargain may result in a lesser penalty for such an offense. However, plea bargains may not be appropriate in all cases. Any of our readers in Colorado who are facing criminal charges will want to consider all of the available options in their own unique cases.