Wisconsin residents may enjoy watching procedural crime dramas play out on television and assume that criminal legal issues are resolved just as quickly in real life, but this is most often not the case. The reality is that most criminal prosecutions in the country do not end in courtroom drama, but through plea negotiations and agreements.
A plea agreement is an important tool in criminal defense. It is primarily an agreement between the defendant and the prosecutors in which the defendant agrees to plead guilty to either all of the charges they are facing or some of them, in exchange for some concessions from the prosecutor.
There are a few ways that the defendant’s punishment can be reduced legally. The first way to accomplish this is by reducing the severity of the charges the defendant is facing. The prosecutor agrees to dismiss more severe charges, with the defendant pleading to lesser charges. The second way to accomplish this is by the prosecutor recommending that the defendant get a lighter sentence for the stated charge, not a lesser charge. It is possible that plea agreements even ask the defendant to do more than plead guilty. A defendant could be asked to testify against someone else in return for the plea deal.
There are a number of reasons a defendant may agree to engage in plea bargaining and a criminal defense strategy should consider the benefits and drawbacks of plea negotiations. Getting the right information about your defense options is crucial in any criminal case.