The plea bargain process is a feature of the federal criminal justice system that is essential to making the criminal justice system work efficiently. The defendant is almost always faced with the maximum charges that will be imposed should the case go to trial. Because of this prosecution will offer up the opportunity to plead guilty to lesser charges or reduce the maximum sentence on the original charge. Because of plea bargains it is estimated that only about 1 to 2 percent of cases go to trial.
The two traditional types of plea bargains are charge bargaining and sentencing bargaining. Charge bargaining deals with dismissing or reducing the severity of charges in exchange for the defendant pleading guilty to lesser charges. Sentencing bargaining deals strictly with reducing the amount of time being served based on the defendant’s guilty plea.
The elements that are required for a plea bargain to occur are:
Individuals must submit a guilty plea voluntarily
Charges must have factual basis
Defendants must have the assistance of legal counsel while negotiations occur
Characteristics that play a role in what the plea bargain will be in terms of seriousness include seriousness of the crime, prior criminal record, strength of evidence, and the use of a public or private defender.
The judge’s role in the plea bargain process is generally limited if anything at all. The primary responsibility of the judge is to accept or reject a plea agreement based on the appropriateness of the punishment in relation to the crime.
Based on what I’ve read and learned from the video it would seem that plea bargains are indeed a necessary evil so to speak. Without them the criminal justice system would grind to a halt and with them defendants have a chance to serve reduced sentences. What I do like is that you have the option to go to trial and fight if you choose to do so.