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What happens during plea negotiations?

There are a few different ways that a criminal case can be resolved. You can go to trial and count on a jury of your peers to determine your guilt or innocence. In some cases, your case might be dropped by the prosecution. Another option is that you will be able to work out a plea agreement.

What is a plea bargain?

A plea bargain occurs when you agree to plea in a certain way in exchange for certain conditions. In many cases, you will have to plead no contest or guilty in order to secure a plea agreement. When you are considering a plea agreement, you or your attorney will negotiate with the prosecution on the terms.

What areas can be used during negotiations?

There are three areas that can be used during negotiations -- sentence, charge, and fact. Sentence negotiations involve determining what sentence the prosecution will seek in exchange for your plea. Charge negotiations involve determining if a lesser charge can be used as the basis of the agreement in exchange for your plea. Fact bargaining, which is the least common form of plea negotiations, means agreeing that certain facts will be left out of a case in exchange for your plea.

When you are considering a plea agreement, you must carefully consider the terms of the agreement. Make sure that you understand the possible outcomes of the agreement, as well as how the agreement might affect you in the future. If you have any questions or concerns during the plea negotiation process, make sure that you get those addressed prior to moving forward.

Source: FindLaw, "Plea Bargaining: Areas of Negotiation," accessed Feb. 10, 2016

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