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Why plea bargains are offered

When California residents are facing criminal charges, it is possible their cases will be resolved through the plea bargaining process. With a plea bargain, the defendant often will agree to plead guilty to a lesser charge or in exchange for dismissal of additional charges. Often, the possible sentence faced will be much less than what would have been the case had the trial proceeded.

Prosecutors will typically consider the person's criminal history, the egregiousness of the case and the circumstances and facts of it before they agree to offer a plea agreement. A large majority of criminal cases are resolved through plea agreements, and they are looked upon favorably by the courts and criminal justice system.

The reason plea bargaining is an accepted practice is that there is such a large volume of cases filed that not all of them could feasibly go through trial. Criminal defense attorneys carefully review everything, including their clients' criminal histories, how any stop or search was conducted and the strength of witnesses. They then discuss the options their clients have with them. Defense attorneys negotiate on their clients' behalf with the prosecutors who are assigned to their cases. Defense attorneys will seek to get the most favorable plea offers they can for their clients.

People who have been charged with criminal offenses may want to seek help from a criminal defense attorney. Counsel may be better able to negotiate a plea that limits any potential jail time. The attorney may also be able to negotiate a plea to a lesser offense to help protect the client's record. Upon a review of a client's case, an attorney may sometimes feel the defense is strong enough that it warrants going to trial. However, the decision of whether or not to take the case to trial is always up to the client.

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