If you were to sit in a courtroom and listen to all the trial dates being set, you'd assume that most cases go to trial. But this is far from the case. In fact, only 10 percent ever do. In the case of the other 90 percent of them, many defendants end up taking plea deals.
Prosecutors have difficulty keeping pace with the sheer number of cases that come across their desks. If they were to try every case, there would be a significant backlog in processing criminals through the legal system. It would be costly to do so as well.
One of the reasons that prosecutors plea bargain with defendants is to keep victims from the trauma of having to testify when they are unwilling. Prosecutors also plea bargain to reduce their caseloads. In exchange for not having to try a case, the prosecutor might agree to reduce the charges against a defendant. Some prosecutors may also offer plea deals in exchange for defendants testifying against others.
When prosecutors try to plea bargain, it's often advantageous for defendants to accept them. Doing so can greatly reduce the amount of time spent in jail or the money paid in fines. It can also reduce court costs and other expenses of putting on a defense.
From the perspective of a prosecutor, a plea deal can serve as a way to ensure that someone is at least held accountable for a crime. This is seen as a desirable alternative to trying a case where the defendant is acquitted by a jury.
From a defendant's perspective, in most cases, accepting a plea deal is understood as an admission of guilt. Still, it can save him or her from having to roll the dice on a jury's verdict. Plea deals can give defendants control over the outcomes of their cases by negotiating for reduced consequences.
Dunkirk residents who have been charged with crimes should learn all they can about the criminal process when determining a defense strategy. Then, you can decide whether it's best to stand trial or accept a plea deal.
Source: FindLaw, "Plea bargain pros and cons," accessed June 15, 2018