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How Do Connecticut Plea Bargains Work?

 Posted on December 27, 2022 in Criminal Defense

Stamford, CT criminal defense attorneyMany people are under the impression – largely due to television shows and movies – that when a person is charged with a crime, the resolution of the case involves a trial and jury verdict. The reality, however, is that the majority of criminal cases in the United States do not end in trial. According to national statistics, less than 5 percent of criminal cases actually make it to trial. The majority of case resolutions involve plea bargains.

What Is a Plea Bargain?

A plea bargain is an agreement between the prosecutor and the defendant in which the defendant agrees to plead guilty to the crime they are charged with in exchange for lesser charges and/or a shorter sentence. The two sides negotiate to come to this agreement.

Why Do People Enter into Pleas Bargains?

There are a number of reasons why plea bargains occur. Oftentimes, both sides are aware of the strengths and weaknesses in the cases and the defense attorney realizes that given the evidence, a plea bargain is in the defendant’s best interest.

Another reason why plea bargains have become so frequent is due to how common mandatory minimum sentences have also become. A mandatory minimum sentence gives the prosecutor a lot of control over what type of penalty the defendant faces because it is the prosecutor who decides what charges to bring against the defendant.

With that mandatory minimum sentence hanging over the defendant’s head if they are found guilty, many defendants will agree to plead guilty to a lesser charge with a less harsh penalty rather than risk a hefty maximum sentence if convicted on the original charge they were arrested for.

Unfortunately, these mandatory minimum sentences can even result in an innocent defendant pleading guilty because of how unpredictable juries can be.

How Does a Plea Bargain Work?

The negotiation of plea bargains is between the prosecutor and the defense attorney. There are a couple of different ways this can go. Each involves the defendant pleading guilty.

The first option is the prosecutor offers to reduce the charges to a lesser crime, which in turn has a less severe sentence. The other option is that the prosecutor will make a recommendation to the judge regarding what the defendant’s sentence should be; however, the judge is not required to adhere to that recommendation and can impose a more severe penalty if he or she feels the prosecutor’s recommendation is not harsh enough for the crime committed.  

Contact a Stamford, CT Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with a crime, do not delay in contacting a Fairfield County defense attorney to begin building your defense. Your attorney will explain your legal options, including whether or not a plea bargain may be in your best interest. Call Law Offices of Daniel P. Weiner at 203-348-5846 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.


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