It might be easy to assume that once a person in New York is arrested and charged with a crime, they will inevitably wind up pleading their case before a jury, who will decide their guilt or innocence. However, many criminal cases are ultimately resolved not in trial, but instead through out-of-court plea negotiations.
In general, through plea negotiations — also known as plea bargaining — the accused will agree to plead guilty to either a lesser charge or fewer charges, or for a reduced sentence. There are plusses and minuses to plea bargaining that people in New York should understand before deciding whether this course of action is right for them.
There are some good reasons for a person to accept a plea agreement. Going through the entire trial process can be expensive and can attract publicity that the accused might rather avoid. Moreover, oftentimes the deal struck in the plea agreement is less harsh than the sentence the accused could face if found guilty through a trial. Moreover, a plea agreement puts the accused in charge of their own fate rather than being subjected to the uncertainties of a trial.
On the other hand, a plea agreement takes away the chance the accused could be found “not guilty” entirely. In addition, many plea agreements must be approved by the court. Finally, once announced in court, the details of the plea agreement will be made public.
As this shows, there are some good reasons to enter into a plea agreement, but there may also be reasons not to enter into a plea agreement. Whether a plea agreement is the preferred option will depend on the facts of an individual’s case. Therefore, those who are facing criminal charges and are thinking about taking a plea deal will want to ensure they understand how the law applies to the facts of their case before making a decision.