Most Americans are familiar with plea bargains. However, far fewer know that there are a variety of plea bargains available. This means that if the prosecution offers you a plea bargain in your criminal case, it is possible that it will look different than what you expected.
To be precise, there are three varieties of plea bargains. According to FindLaw, these include plea bargaining, charge bargaining and sentence bargaining.
Charge bargaining: The most famous bargain
When most people think about “plea bargains,” they are likely thinking of a charge bargain. Charge bargains involve the defendant agreeing to plead guilty to lesser charges. A good example is somebody pleading guilty to manslaughter so that there will not be a murder trial.
Sentence and fact bargaining
Sentence bargaining has a lot in common with charge bargaining. The main difference is that, with a sentence bargain, the charge stays the same. An example of sentence bargaining would involve the defendant pleading guilty to murder, but getting a manslaughter-like sentence.
Rather than dealing with charges or sentences, fact bargaining deals with what information the defense and prosecution will put forth at trial. Usually, this involves the defense allowing the prosecution to establish certain facts without needing to prove them, in exchange for the prosecution omitting other facts from the trial.
No matter the breadth or scope of your criminal trial, it is likely that a plea bargain will be a part of the process. In certain situations, plea bargains benefit both the defendant and the prosecution. However, whether or not taking a plea bargain is a good idea in your case depends on the facts of your trial.