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What kinds of plea bargains exist?

It is highly likely that your criminal defense case will involve a plea bargain. Depending on the details of your case, accepting a plea bargain may be a good idea or a bad one. However, even if you decide to not accept a plea bargain, it is common for the prosecution to offer one.

Many people are not aware that there are multiple types of plea bargains. The three common varieties of plea bargain include fact bargaining, sentence bargaining and charge bargaining.

Fact bargains: Extant but rare

The most uncommon kind of plea bargain is a fact bargain. Fact bargaining involves negotiating over evidence that the defense and prosecution present in a trial. For example, the defense may agree to allow the prosecution to present certain facts without needing to prove them. In exchange, the prosecution often agrees to not introduce other facts into evidence.

Fact bargaining is extremely rare. It is much more common to bargain over sentences and charges.

Charge and sentence bargaining: “Traditional” plea bargains

A charge bargain is the most well-known kind of plea bargain. This is when the defendant agrees to plead guilty to a lesser charge. Some defendants may agree to plead guilty to manslaughter in order to avoid murder charges.

Sentence bargaining is similar. In a sentence bargain, the defendant agrees to plead guilty to the charges the prosecution lays out. In return, the prosecution will seek a lesser sentence for those charges.

No matter what kind of plea bargain the prosecution offers you, whether or not to accept it depends on your case. If you have a strong defense, a plea bargain may not be necessary.