What Is a Plea Bargain? Should I Accept One?

After being charged with a crime, many people wonder whether they will be offered a plea bargain and, if so, whether they should take one. Although most people have heard the term “plea bargain” on television, they may only have a vague idea of what a plea bargain really is.

Commonly referred to as a “joint submission,” a plea bargain is an agreement between the prosecutor and the offender’s lawyer regarding the offender’s criminal charges, sentence, and sometimes both the charges and the sentence.

Although the judge does not have to accept the joint submission, the law does require the judge to give substantial weight to the joint submission. In practice, the majority of judges uphold joint submissions.

Advantages of a Plea Bargain

Although the best outcome for any criminal case is withdrawal of the charges, full acquittal, or dismissal of all charges, a plea bargain can be a good choice for individuals who wish to minimize the damage of a conviction. No criminal defence lawyer can ever guarantee a result prior to trial. In some cases, a plea bargain is an ideal alternative to the risk and expense of a full criminal trial.

An experienced criminal lawyer is skilled at knowing when a plea bargain is the best possible option in a case, given the circumstances and the evidence. In some cases, a defence lawyer can negotiate with the prosecutor for the accused to plead guilty to a lesser charge. This benefits the prosecutor by getting the case off the court’s docket, and it benefits the accused by reducing the sentence.

The decision to accept a plea bargain is one that should never be taken lightly. The accused and his lawyer must examine all the facts and consider the likelihood of a conviction should the case proceed to trial.

The best criminal defence lawyers are those who are always prepared to defend a case in court while remaining open to the possibility of negotiating an acceptable joint submission with the Crown. It’s rarely good for the accused to jump quickly at a “deal,” just as it’s usually imprudent to “fight” the case regardless of the circumstances. Experienced criminal lawyers know that the ideal path for the client requires a more balanced approach.

Ottawa, Ontario Criminal Defence

Criminal defence lawyers Bruce Engel and Elena Davies have represented individuals and businesses charged with hundreds of different offences throughout Canada for more than two decades. From the start of a criminal investigation to the close of a trial, we will take a balanced and forceful approach to your defence. We have the experience and know-how to effectively navigate the constantly changing justice system in Canada.

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Engel & Associates
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