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The incentives of negotiating plea bargains

If a New Jersey resident has been charged with a criminal violation, they may have their case taken to trial. However, it may be possible for a defendant to negotiate a plea bargain. About 90 percent of criminal convictions stem from plea bargains, and there are incentives for all the involved parties to engage in such negotiations.

From the perspective of a prosecutor who is handling the case for the state, a plea bargain often means less uncertainty. Despite the availability of evidence, any case that goes to trial does not have a guaranteed outcome because of a number of factors, but a plea arrangement secures a conviction. Furthermore, the agreements often require less time for both the prosecution and the judges hearing the case. Because of crowded court dockets and limited prison space, judges may be inclined to take a negotiated bargain, easing stress on the criminal justice system whenever possible.

Plea bargains also provide some benefits to a defendant. Often, in exchange for the defendant's cooperation, the prosecution will pursue less severe penalties or have the charges lowered. In addition to these benefits, the stress and cost of an extended trail are also avoided if a bargain is negotiated.

While bargaining may provide benefits to all the parties involved, it may not be a good strategy for every situation. A person facing criminal charges might discuss the benefits of seeking a plea bargain or in pursuing an acquittal of the charges at trial with a criminal defense attorney. Legal counsel might then represent the defendant's interests throughout negotiations prior to a trial.

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