plea bargain

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plea bargain

n. 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 sentence. If he does not, then the bargain is cancelled. Reasons for the bargaining 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: plea, cop a plea)

References in periodicals archive ?
The special counsel moved to tear up Manafort's plea deal in November, alleging that the former campaign chairman had breached the agreement by continuing to lie.
However, only a quarter of the victims identified had provided documentation of their losses by the time the plea deal was arranged this month.
Virginia judges have accepted some fairly creative plea deals, but the Pino case is new ground, said veteran criminal attorney J.
Gates' move was seen as adding to pressure on Manafortto cut a deal himself but he said in a statement issued last Friday after Gates' plea deal that he maintained his innocence.
Marks pleaded guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Friday in a plea deal, according to Australian Associated Press.
The admission came as part of a plea deal as Flynn pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI.
The former FBI chief sent a resounding message of much more to come when he unveiled money laundering charges against Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign chair, and Manafort deputy Rick Gates, and a plea deal with campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos for lying about contacts with Russians.
Under the plea deal, prosecutors would drop the DUI charge from his arrest in May.
Ochoa, who ultimately spent 13 years in prison, indicated he took his plea deal and testified against Danziger to avoid the risk of a death sentence.
Wallace struck a rare plea deal with prosecutors as jurors were deliberating in his case, and he was jailed for nine years.
According to Mano's plea deal documents, she set up an unauthorized online account for a credit union member.
The bank's CEO, Milton Smith, and his sister, Virginia Fields, asked Baker to reject the plea deal and send the case to trial.