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The role of plea bargains in the criminal justice system

On Behalf of | Oct 6, 2023 | Criminal Defense

An arrest signifies an accusation, not a conviction. The accused or arrested person still has a right to a fair trial, where they can defend themselves against unreasonable allegations. However, trials do not always happen. In fact, approximately “94 percent of felony convictions at the state level and about 97 percent at the federal level are the result of plea bargains.”

Plea bargains are agreements where the prosecution persuades a defendant to admit guilt and offers a more lenient punishment for the admission. A plea bargain can only happen when the defendant admits guilt for a crime instead of going to trial. The prosecution will use a plea bargain to quicken a conviction.

Why you should not take a plea bargain

If you are the accused and are now in a position where you must defend yourself, you should know that a plea bargain is not the easy way out. It may seem tempting to comply, but you should never admit to a crime you did not commit. The prosecution might use a plea bargain when the evidence against you is weak.

They must prove that a crime occurred and that you, the accused, had intent. Intent implies you did the criminal act even if you knew it was wrong. Furthermore, the prosecution should be able to connect your intent to the criminal act. A criminal conviction is only possible if they have evidence that can prove that you committed a crime beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a very high legal standard.

Illegally obtained evidence is inadmissible in court

Law enforcement agents are infamous for doing any means necessary to catch a criminal, sometimes violating constitutional rights. If the prosecution has evidence against you, they may have obtained it illegally, and your lawyer can ask to suppress it.

An arrest does not define you, but a conviction can. Admitting guilt through a plea bargain will result in a conviction.