Many Californians have heard of plea bargaining, but they may not understand why it is used or what benefits it might offer to each of the parties who are involved. Plea bargaining has been an accepted practice in the U.S. for decades as a way to resolve cases.
Judges allow plea bargaining because it helps to clear their calendars of minor cases. With the volume of criminal cases that are filed, it would be difficult if not impossible for all of them to go through a trial. Plea bargaining helps to resolve cases quickly and efficiently.
Prosecutors rely on plea bargaining in order to keep their calendars freed up to try the most serious offenses. They are also likelier to extend offers when the evidence against a defendant isn't as strong as they would like. Defendants also benefit by the plea bargaining process. With a plea bargain, a defendant may be able to avoid prison or jail. A defendant may also be able to receive a conviction for a lesser offense or get some of the counts dismissed. This helps defendants reduce the amount of time they would otherwise have to serve if they were convicted at a trial.
People who are charged with committing crimes may benefit by getting the help of criminal defense attorneys. Legal counsel may advise the client about the advisability of seeking a plea bargain. An attorney who thinks that it is in the client's best interest to try to obtain a plea will try and obtain the best possible result, knowing, however, that even if the prosecutor agrees, the ultimate choice is that of the defendant.