“Charge bargaining” and “sentence bargaining” in the state of California refer to different types of plea bargains. Plea bargains are negotiations you can make with the prosecution in exchange for a lesser sentence or a reduction in the severity of your charges.
Understanding a Plea Bargain
With a plea bargain, the prosecution benefits by saving both time and resources in not having to prove a more severe charge. However, the court must approve the reduction in the charge(s), as with any other plea bargain. If the court does not approve the plea bargain, then the harsher sentence and charges remain in effect.
However, before you attempt to negotiate any kind of plea deal, you should strongly consider speaking with a lawyer to make sure you’re not settling for a deal that sounds good on paper but doesn’t actually benefit you in the long run. Our criminal defense lawyers can review the deal you’ve been offered and advise you on whether you should take it.
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Charge bargaining refers to the act of bargaining for a lesser charge. If the defendant accepts this type of plea bargain, then he pleads guilty to a crime that is less serious than what he was initially charged with. For instance, if someone is charged with a DUI murder, charge bargaining would result in the murder charge being dropped in favor of his pleading guilty to vehicular manslaughter instead.
Sentence bargaining occurs after the prosecution and the defendant come to an agreement on the sentence the prosecution will argue for. The defendant then pleads guilty or “no contest” to the charges against him in return for the sentence he had previously agreed to.
Sentence bargaining saves the prosecution time by not having to prove the defendant’s guilt at trial. In exchange, the defendant also benefits by not having to serve as much time (if any) in jail. Or, in cases where jail time is not a threat, the fines and fees the defendant may be required to pay can be reduced.
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Other Types of Plea Bargains
In addition to charge bargaining and sentence bargaining, there is also count bargaining and fact bargaining. Count bargaining is essentially a subsection of charge bargaining. Here, the defendant pleads guilty to one or a couple of the initial charges against him in exchange for the prosecution dropping the remainder of the charges.
As for fact bargaining, this is a process by which the defendant pleads guilty based on a particular set of facts that prove his guilt. The prosecution, in exchange, omits some of the facts that would have otherwise increased the severity of his sentence due to the laws surrounding sentencing. This is the least popular of the plea-bargaining types.
To better understand fact bargaining, consider the following example. A defendant is charged with possessing over ten kilos of cocaine. Such a charge carries a hefty prison sentence. The defendant agrees to plead guilty to drug possession, provided the prosecution agrees to saying that he possessed less of an amount than he actually possessed.
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Accepting a Plea Bargain
As with charge bargaining and sentence bargaining, you really need to know what you’re doing before you accept a plea bargain. If you’ve already been offered a plea bargain, it’s not too late to contact a criminal lawyer to help you with your case.
When you enter a guilty plea, depending on the charge, you could be branding yourself a sex offender for life. Or adding a conviction to your record that could count against you with regard to California’s Three Strikes Law. These are only two of the potentially major consequences that come with taking a guilty plea, so this is not a decision you should be making lightly, or alone.
Don’t Take a Plea Alone: Call Us Right Away!
Taking a plea may sound like an appealing idea. Going to trial is terrifying when you think of the worst of the penalties that you could be slapped with. However, pleading guilty to a crime can have long-lasting effects on your personal and professional relationships, as well as your ability to get a job, buy a house, and engage in a number of important activities in the future.
You should not be taking a plea deal without talking to an experienced criminal defense lawyer first. Here at the Simmrin Law Group, we have decades of experience advising clients just like you on what they should and should not do, saving them from making what could have been potentially the biggest mistake of their lives..
Fill out the form to the right, or call us at (310) 997-4688 to speak with one of our qualified lawyers. He or she will provide you with a free consultation with no obligation to retain, along with the peace of mind you can enjoy in knowing that you might the right decision for your case. Call us today!