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What are plea bargains? How do they work?

When you are going through a criminal case, you probably want the whole matter to be over with as soon as possible. Many criminal cases are settled through the plea bargaining process. In some cases, this process is faster than going to trial.

Who starts a plea bargaining process?

The defense or the prosecution can start the process. Once the process is started, both parties have to agree on the terms of the plea bargain. The process is usually private. However, there is a chance that the victims of the crime might have input into the plea bargain.

Are plea bargains sure things?

In most cases, the court has to accept the plea bargain. However, just because the prosecution and defense agree on the plea bargain, the court doesn't have to accept it. With that in mind, defendants should make sure that they understand what options might be changed in the plea bargain.

Why are plea bargains something worth exploring?

As we already discussed, plea bargains are usually a faster resolution to a case than going to trial. In some cases, this can spare you the public scrutiny of a trial. You might find that you can plead guilty to lesser charges in exchange for the more serious charges being dropped.

The plea bargaining process is one that can take time. Working with an Arizona attorney who is familiar with the prosecution's thoughts regarding plea deals might help you as you work toward an agreement. In every case, you should understand how a plea bargain affects the outcome of your case.

Source: American Bar Association, "Steps in a Trial: Plea Bargaining," accessed May. 21, 2015

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