Should you enter into a plea bargain?

August 4, 2022
Should you enter into a plea bargain?

If you face criminal charges in Missouri, there is a good possibility that the prosecutor may offer you a plea bargain. But should you accept it?

FindLaw explains that a plea bargain represents a negotiated agreement between you and the prosecutor. Actually, your attorney undoubtedly will be the person who negotiates with the prosecutor instead of you, and (s)he will be trying to obtain the best possible plea bargain given all the circumstances.

Three kinds of plea bargains

Plea bargains generally come in the following three varieties:

  1. Charge bargain wherein the prosecutor agrees to reduce your charges in exchange for your agreement to plead guilty to it or them
  2. Sentence bargain wherein you agree to enter a guilty plea to the original charge(s) against you in exchange for the prosecutor’s agreement to recommend to the judge that (s)he impose a lighter sentence on you
  3. Fact bargain wherein you and your attorney agree to stipulate that certain facts in your case are true in exchange for the prosecutor’s agreement not to bring up other facts

Keep in mind that in a sentence bargain, the prosecutor only agrees to recommend a lighter sentence. (S)he does not and cannot guarantee that the judge will go along with that recommendation.

Plea bargain advantages

You receive two main advantages by entering into a plea bargain. First, you avoid the time and expense of a full-blown trial. Second, you know what to expect instead of leaving your fate in the hands of a jury.

Plea bargain disadvantages

Whenever you accept a plea bargain, you give up your constitutional right to a trial by jury. Even though a jury trial always entails an unknown outcome, you should think seriously before giving up one of your constitutional rights. In addition, accepting a plea bargain means that you must admit in open court that you committed one or more crimes. Your guilty plea severely hampers any later attempt you and your attorney may make to successfully appeal your conviction.

This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.


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