Plea Bargain Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Plea Bargain, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Plea Bargain?

It is a negotiated mutual agreement between the criminal defendant and the prosecutor, wherby the criminal case is disposed off with the approval of the court. The mutual agreement is such where the defendant may bargain for lesser trial periods, less severity of punishment, dismissing several charges or anything thats favorable or benefit for the defendant, and in return they plead themselves guilty for certain crime or be “no contest” . Prosecution may also bargain for full co-operation in the case. plea bargain if taken place successfully, can save a lot of time and money.

History and Meaning of Plea Bargain

Plea bargaining has its roots in medieval England, where the defendant who pleaded guilty was given a lighter sentence compared to those who were convicted after a trial. In the United States, plea bargain became popular as the criminal justice system became overburdened with cases in the 19th century. Plea bargains involve the defendant agreeing to plead guilty or not contest to the charges against them in exchange for a lesser sentence or charges.

A plea bargain is a deal made between the prosecutor and the defendant in a criminal case where the defendant agrees to plead guilty or no contest to certain charges in exchange for a lesser sentence, dismissal of certain charges, or other concessions from the prosecution. The goal of a plea bargain is to save time and resources for both the defendant and the prosecutor, and to avoid the risk and expense of a trial.

Examples of Plea Bargain

  1. After being charged with drug possession, the defendant agrees to plead guilty to a lesser charge of drug paraphernalia possession in exchange for probation instead of jail time.

  2. The defendant in a DUI case agrees to plead guilty to a lesser charge of reckless driving in exchange for a reduced sentence and community service.

  3. The prosecutor agrees to dismiss certain charges against the defendant in exchange for the defendant pleading guilty to a lesser charge.

Legal Terms Similar to Plea Bargain

  1. Deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) - an agreement between the prosecutor and the defendant in which the defendant agrees to certain conditions, such as community service or restitution, in exchange for the dismissal of charges after a certain period of time.

  2. Nolo contendere - a plea in which the defendant does not admit guilt, but agrees to accept punishment for a crime.

  3. Guilty plea - a plea in which the defendant admits guilt to the charges against them.