Making a Deal: 3 Types of Plea Bargains

If you’ve decided to enter into a plea bargain with your criminal case, you have hopefully arrived at your decision after carefully scrutinizing the situation with an experienced attorney. Depending on your situation, you will want to consider all types of plea bargains in order to arrive at the optimal outcome for your case.  There is a fundamental difference between plea agreements in state and federal court. The following analysis though having application in both forums is more applicable to state proceedings. Our team is experienced in both state and federal court.

Prosecutors are often open to plea bargains for accused defendants for several reasons. It saves time and financial resources they could be spending on other cases they deem more serious or worthwhile. As the court system and prosecutors are usually overloaded with case files, they are also usually in search of ways to expedite the legal process for misdemeanors and other such charges.

  1. Charge Bargaining

Charge bargaining is probably the most widely known type of plea bargaining. A common example is a defendant charged with murder and facing decades in prison. In this case, the prosecution might offer to drop the murder count and have him or her plead guilty to manslaughter. Because manslaughter is an act that causes death but isn’t premeditated, it generally carries a lesser sentence. 

Also, if a defendant is facing multiple charges, the prosecution can offer to drop one or more in exchange for the defendant pleading guilty to one of the counts. This is called count bargaining, which is considered separate from charge bargaining but is very similar. 

  1. Sentence Bargaining

In contrast to a charge bargain, the defendant will plead guilty to the original crime. However, in exchange for that action, he or she will be guaranteed a sentence considered lesser than what they might have received from a judge after a jury trial. For example, because a defendant does not want to risk losing their employment, they plead guilty to trespassing in order to avoid jail time. 

  1. Fact Bargaining

Fact bargaining is another type of plea bargain, and many judges won’t even consider using it. In a fact bargain, the prosecution will agree not to release certain facts into official court proceedings. For example, a prosecutor might allow someone to plead guilty to being caught with a certain amount of marijuana when the actual amount the defendant was caught with would trigger a mandatory minimum sentence. 


It is important to be sure you are getting the best possible deal when a prosecutor offers you a plea bargain, which often indicates the prosecution is less than certain about your charges holding up in front of a jury. For that reason, you may want to consider taking your case to trial. An experienced legal team can help you strive to get the best possible result given your circumstances. Contact us today for counsel that works for you.

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Weisberg Kainen Mark, PL

As experienced trial lawyers with a passion for justice, our firm provides clients with compelling advocacy, attorney availability, and creative solutions to your tax or criminal law matters.

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