California residents who have been charged with a criminal offense may have dim views of the idea of accepting a plea bargain in their cases. The reality is that plea bargains can often be advantageous to criminal defendants, the court system and the prosecution, and 90 percent of criminal cases are resolved in this manner.
From the judicial system standpoint, plea arrangements are encouraged for a few different reasons. Judges understand the issues presented by prison and jail overcrowding in California, and they are often willing to help prevent further problems by accepting an agreement for an alternative sentence or to one with shorter incarceration time. Courts are also overburdened with the number of cases they hear, and plea bargaining can help lessen the caseload on judges' dockets, allowing them to concentrate on more serious offenses.
Plea bargaining can be beneficial to criminal defendants as well. Through the process, people may end up with fewer and less serious crimes on their records. They may also be able to use the process to avoid harsher sentences involving long periods of imprisonment. Prosecutors use plea bargaining to enjoy a lighter caseload while still securing convictions. They may also choose to offer a plea bargain in order to garner the person's cooperation or testimony against a co-defendant who is more culpable.
People who are facing a criminal charge may be presented with an offer to plead guilty. They should not look askance at receiving an offer, but they should rather understand the important function plea bargains have in the criminal justice system. Criminal defense attorneys are required to communicate any plea offer that is extended to them for their clients. Just because an offer is made does not mean that the defendant must accept it. A criminal defense attorney may advise clients on the advisability of accepting any offer.