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Why a plea bargain could benefit a Georgia defendant

You've always been a law-abiding citizen, or at least you were until the night you got in a bit of trouble and found yourself wearing handcuffs, sitting in the back of a police car and standing in front of a judge.

You're about to be introduced to the Georgia criminal justice system and learn a lot of new terms that really have never been part of your vocabulary. One of the phrases your attorney just might teach you? Plea bargain.

So just what is a plea bargain, and what could it mean in your situation?

In the United States, up to 90 percent of all criminal cases wind up being plea bargained. That means your attorney and the prosecutor will get together and come up with a way to settle your case that is agreeable to both parties.

How can a defendant benefit from a plea bargain?

A prosecutor often will agree to a plea bargain to get a case off the court docket. The state will save time and money if a case is not prosecuted.

For the defendant, there are numerous benefits.

  1. Avoid jail time: A prosecutor might offer to settle a case with no jail time. That is a big incentive for defendants who don't want to be away from family or their job, or who don't want the stigma of jail time attached to them.
  2. Be certain of the outcome: Even though you and your attorney are convinced you have a strong defense, you might be willing to take a plea bargain so that you know what the result will be. Instead of being acquitted at trial, you could receive a maximum sentence. Signing a plea agreement gives you peace of mind in knowing exactly what your sentence will be.
  3. Reduced charges: A reduction in the severity of the charge is the most common reason for the plea bargain. A reduced charge could have a much smaller impact on your future.
  4. Reduced sentence: The prosecutor who doesn't agree to lower the charge could agree to reduce the length of sentence. The reduction could be a number of years that could make a tremendous difference to a defendant.

These are just a few of the benefits of a plea bargain. An experienced criminal defense attorney can discuss all the options in your situation.

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