As some Ohio residents may know, criminal courts around the country are overburdened with a large number of cases. In order to alleviate some of the problems associated with this, the process of plea bargaining is used in a great majority of situations. Deciding if a plea bargain is appropriate in a particular case depends on a series of factors.
Plea bargains may be used to help decrease the case load while possibly lowering the charges and potential jail time for the defendant. Essentially, a plea deal is a swap. In it, a defendant accepts a guilty plea in exchange for concessions by the prosecution. With the introduction of mandatory minimum sentences imposed on the courts allowing for little if any judicial discretion, such mandatory minimums require prison terms of a specific duration with little room for variance. In some cases, a plea bargain is a way for a defendant to reduce his or her sentence, assuming that a potential jury trial would result in a guilty verdict.
A plea bargain is based on several factors such as whether the evidence against the defendant is strong, the defendant's age and whether there is a criminal history. The nature of the crime is also considered. In some cases, mitigating circumstances may weaken the case, prompting a prosecutor to offer a plea deal.
A criminal defense attorney will review the evidence, evaluate legal inconsistencies or failure by the police to follow protocol and prior criminal behavior. In some cases, the likelihood of winning a jury trial is greater than others where the risk of a jury trial may be increased. A defense attorney may counsel the defendant on whether a plea deal is beneficial.