A Connecticut Criminal Lawyer Explains: What Is a Plea Bargain?

A Connecticut Criminal Lawyer Explains: What Is a Plea Bargain?

Nearly 90% of all criminal cases in Connecticut end in a plea bargain. This is a percentage of criminal cases that have continued to grow and grow in recent years and many people anticipate that the overall number of Connecticut criminal cases that settle outside court will only increase. If that seems outrageous to you as a defendant, then you should seek a private Connecticut criminal lawyer.

Plea bargains are a source of great debate and dispute in the Connecticut criminal justice system. As you will read, there are many ways in which plea bargains are necessary to our court system today. In the alternative, a Connecticut plea bargain can limit the options and outcome for a defendant, in ways that are to that defendant’s detriment. If you are facing criminal charges of any type of nature then it is time to know: what is a plea bargain?

The Building Blocks of a Plea Bargain

The simplest definition of a plea bargain is that it is an agreement between a Connecticut prosecutor and defendant to settle a criminal case before trial. In every plea bargain, the defendant must plead guilty to the charges; this is where the word “plea” comes from in the term plea bargain. Wondering the reasoning behind the use of the word “bargain”? In exchange for the guilty plea, the defendant bargains for lesser charges than originally alleged at arraignment.

In a plea bargain, a Connecticut prosecutor may agree to drop one charge, reduce the charges, or specify the minimum sentence for the alleged crimes. Given the less serious or severe nature of the reduced criminal charges, plea bargains are often described as a good deal for all parties. However, if you ask a Connecticut criminal lawyer, you’d find that isn’t always true.

Reasons a Prosecutor Pushes for a Plea Bargain

Criminal courts in the United States, including here in Connecticut, are becoming more crowded. The court system and the entirety of the criminal justice system are overwhelmed and backed-up with criminal cases on every docket. Plea bargains help alleviate this strain that is placed on courts and Connecticut prosecutors by settling cases faster.

Through a plea bargain, a Connecticut prosecutor can settle a minor case and turn attention to a more significant defendant. This frees up resources in the criminal justice system and limits workloads at the district attorney’s office. However, a good Connecticut criminal lawyer sees the system of plea bargains and settling outside trial as a detriment to many defendants.

A plea bargain also guarantees a certain win for the prosecutor. Irrespective of the circumstances of the case, a Connecticut defendant pleads guilty or no contest to the charges. This eliminates the chances of a not guilty verdict at trial, where evidence might not be in the state’s favor and juries are unpredictable.

Why a Plea Bargain May Not Be Best for Defendants

Plea bargains aren’t inherently bad. Under certain circumstances, a plea bargain allows a defendant to offer valuable information on criminal activity or criminal in exchange for a much lower sentence. This allows prosecutors to reach higher-ups in a criminal organization or target more violent crimes, while giving a “break” to a non-violent or less brazen defendant. This could be good for everyone involved in the criminal justice system.

What are the disadvantages of plea bargains for a Connecticut defendant? Very few Connecticut criminal cases settle for the reasons described above. Most plea bargains are struck for mere expediency and efficiency reasons. The swiftness of a plea bargain seeks to take advantage of an unaware defendant by offering terms that are far less fair than the possible outcome in court.

Further, the prosecutor isn’t going to provide the chances of success in court or gaps in the case that could result in acquittal. You won’t learn your likelihood of success by reading a Connecticut plea agreement and could be spending more time in jail or paying a large criminal fine than necessary. This is why you need a Connecticut criminal lawyer on your side.

Lastly, you must plead guilty to finalize a plea bargain. You will have this conviction on your criminal record, which could impact your future for a long time. Many of these defendants aren’t guilty of the crime they confess to committing, but a plea bargain is sold as the only and best option – when that might not be the case. If you proceeded to trial, then you have a chance at receiving a not guilty outcome.

Hiring a Private Connecticut Criminal Lawyer

As a private Connecticut criminal lawyer, Alexander Schwartz makes a huge investment in each and every case he takes. Our team at the Law Offices of Alexander Schwartz carries out this commitment to clients by reviewing each and every offer of settlement by a prosecutor and providing personalized advice on whether or not to accept.

Our view of plea bargains is based on prior experience and the explicit facts of your case. We would never advise taking a plea bargain or settlement that wasn’t in your best interest. To learn more about our client-focused criminal defense call us at (203) 255-9829.


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