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Can a plea bargain benefit me?

When you're accused of a crime, one possible way to get a reduced punishment is by accepting a plea agreement. Also known as a plea bargain, this arrangement is very common in the United States. Around 90 percent of all criminal cases end with a plea agreement.

Plea bargains are agreements between the defendant and prosecutor. The prosecutor offers a lesser sentence or offense in return for the defendant pleading guilty.

Do plea bargains benefit you?

That depends on your case. If you're truly not guilty, it's probably not in your best interest to take a plea bargain unless there is a large amount of evidence against you and a high likelihood of conviction. If you are guilty, a plea bargain gives you a way to admit your mistake and to suffer a lesser punishment than if you did not admit to the criminal act. For example, if you commit a drunk-driving offense and face time in prison, you might be able to avoid prison and have house arrest instead under the right circumstances.

Plea bargains also save you money. Since you don't have to spend as much time defending yourself, you use less of your attorney's time and, in turn, save yourself money. You won't waste as much time, either. Waiting for a trial can take months or even years, so a a plea bargain gets an agreement on the books so you can move on with your life sooner.

Your attorney can talk to you about plea bargains and if they're the right choice for you. You may be surprised at the offer you receive.

Source: FindLaw, "Plea Bargains: In Depth," accessed April 04, 2017

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