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The role of plea bargains in criminal cases

When people are facing criminal charges in California, the likelihood of their cases going all the way through trial is minimal. Most cases that are charged end up being resolved through a process called plea bargaining. In a plea bargain, a prosecutor offers to let the person plead guilty to a lesser offense or to dismiss some of the charges, limiting the defendant's exposure to lengthy sentences.

The reason why courts accept plea bargains is that they simply do not have the time and resources available to hear every case at trial. Prosecutors likewise would not possibly be able to take every case to trial. They thus attempt to review a case in order to determine what is most likely to happen if they did go to trial and then to make an offer based on that assessment.

Criminal defense attorneys often investigate their clients' cases so they can arrive at their own evaluation of them. They will consider their clients' criminal histories as well as what is alleged to have happened. They then will discuss the approach that should be taken.

The criminal law system can often be very harsh in its treatment of people who are charged with committing criminal offenses. In many cases, a plea bargain may be a good way for a defendant to limit the length of the sentence. A criminal defense attorney may negotiate with the prosecutor using mitigating evidence that has been uncovered in order to secure a favorable plea that protects the client's interests. Ultimately, the defendant has the right to decide whether or not to accept a plea that has been offered. Defendants also have the right to decide whether they wish to instead go to trial.

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