plea bargain

plea bargain
An agreement made between a criminal defendant and the prosecutor in which the defendant agrees to plead guilty to a lesser offense in exchange for a lighter punishment after conviction.

The Essential Law Dictionary. — Sphinx Publishing, An imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. . 2008.

plea bargain
A negotiation between the defense, prosecution, and the judge that settles a criminal case short of trial. The defendant typically pleads guilty to a lesser crime or fewer charges than originally charged, in exchange for a guaranteed sentence that is shorter than what the defendant would face if convicted at trial. The prosecution gets the certainty of a conviction and a known sentence; the defendant avoids the risk of a higher sentence; and the judge gets to move on to other cases.
Category: Criminal Law
Category: Small Claims Court & Lawsuits

Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary. . 2009.

plea bargain
   in criminal procedure, a negotiation between the defendant and his attorney on one side and the prosecutor on the other, in which the defendant agrees to plead "guilty" or "no contest" to some crimes, in return for reduction of the severity of the charges, dismissal of some of the charges, the prosecutor's willingness to recommend a particular sentence or some other benefit to the defendant. Sometimes one element of the bargain is that the defendant reveal information such as location of stolen goods, names of others participating in the crime or admission of other crimes (such as a string of burglaries). The judge must agree to the result of the plea bargain before accepting the plea. If he does not, then the bargain is cancelled. Reasons for the bargain include a desire to cut down on the number of trials, danger to the defendant of a long term in prison if convicted after trial and the ability to get information on criminal activity from the defendant. There are three dangers: a) an innocent defendant may be pressured into a confession and plea out of fear of a severe penalty if convicted; b) particularly vicious criminals will get lenient treatment and be back "on the street" in a short time; c) results in unequal treatment. Public antipathy to plea bargaining has led to some state statutes prohibiting the practice, but informal discussions can get around the ban.
   See also: cop a plea, plea

Law dictionary. . 2013.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • plea bargain — plea bargains, plea bargaining, plea bargained 1) N COUNT In some legal systems, a plea bargain is an agreement that, if an accused person says they are guilty, they will be charged with a less serious crime or will receive a less severe… …   English dictionary

  • plea-bargain — plea bargainer, n. /plee bahr gin/, v.i. 1. to engage in plea bargaining. v.t. 2. to deal with or achieve by plea bargaining: to plea bargain a reduced sentence. n. 3. the agreement arrived at as a result of plea bargaining. [1965 70] * * * …   Universalium

  • plea bargain — n. an agreement arrived at by plea bargaining * * * …   Universalium

  • plea bargain — n. an agreement arrived at by plea bargaining …   English World dictionary

  • plea-bargain — [plē′bär΄gən] vi. to engage in plea bargaining …   English World dictionary

  • Plea bargain — A plea bargain (also plea agreement, plea deal or copping a plea) is an agreement in a criminal case whereby the prosecutor offers the defendant the opportunity to plead guilty, usually to a lesser charge or to the original criminal charge with a …   Wikipedia

  • plea bargain — noun (criminal law) a negotiation in which the defendant agrees to enter a plea of guilty to a lesser charge and the prosecutor agrees to drop a more serious charge his admission was part of a plea bargain with the prosecutor plea bargaining… …   Useful english dictionary

  • plea-bargain — verb agree to plead guilty in return for a lesser charge If he plea bargains, he will be sent to a medium security prison for 8 years • Derivationally related forms: ↑plea bargain, ↑plea bargaining • Topics: ↑law, ↑jurisprudence • …   Useful english dictionary

  • plea bargain — noun An agreement in which a defendant agrees to plead guilty to a lesser charge instead of not guilty to a greater one See Also: plea bargain …   Wiktionary

  • plea-bargain — verb To make an agreement in which a defendant agrees to plead guilty to a lesser charge instead of not guilty to a greater one See Also: plea bargain …   Wiktionary

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