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There are three main types of plea arrangements charge, sentence, and fact bargains. Charge bargains are the most commonly used; a defendant pleads guilty to a lesser charge, and the prosecutor agrees to dismiss the higher charge (FindLaw, n.d.). Sentence bargains allow a defendant to plead guilty to the same charge but receives a lighter sentence in return. This type must be approved by a judge; most jurisdictions do not allow sentence bargains unless they are for minor crimes (FindLaw, n.d.). Fact bargains are when a defendant agrees to stipulate specific facts to prevent other types of evidence from being introduced (FindLaw, n.d.).

Plea agreements serve a purpose for courts; prosecutors offer them to help reduce the number of cases going to already backlogged courts as well as their caseload. They also provide an assured conviction whereas if taken to the trail there is a possibility the case can be lost. Plea bargains offer protection for informants, sources, and victims.

Plea agreements can be beneficial for the judicial system and for individuals who cannot afford to defend themselves against the system. The national average cost to taxpayers for judicial/legal services per reported crime are approximate: $22,000-$44,000 (homicide), $2,000-$5,000 (rape and sexual assault), $600-$1,300 (robbery) just to name a few (RAND, 2016).

In criminal trials, the defendant gets to choose whether to have a bench trial or a trial by jury.  There are two exceptions to this rule: (1) when the most serious charge carries a maximum penalty of 90 days or less (2) when the most serious charge is a misdemeanor, and the court must impose a “youthful offender adjudication (Schwartzbach, 2018).”

A bench trial consists of a judge who hears evidence and legal arguments against a defendant; then decides if the individual is guilty or not guilty of the charges against them. Advantages of bench trials offer quicker resolutions and are often less time-consuming. They are typically less complicated than jury trials as well as less formal. A drawback to this type of trial is one person is deciding the fate of the defendant (Rome, McGuigan, 2018).

A jury trial is composed of 6 to 12 members of the community, after hearing the evidence and legal arguments decided whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty of the charges against them. This form of the trial can be beneficial because a unanimous decision on guilt or innocence is required; jurors could relate to circumstances of individual being tried. Jury trials allow for a decision to made by numerous people rather than just one. Disadvantages to these trials, jurors lack a legal background, understanding of what is being presented, possible personal biases defendant (Rome, McGuigan, 2018).

Prosecutorial discretion is defined as the power to determine whether to charge an accused offender and, if so, the most appropriate charge for that offender, based on evidence. Overall, I do not feel prosecutors are given too much power when it comes to determining what the most fitting option is for a criminal offense. The power afforded to them allows them to mitigate the time and expense of a trial by offering a plea deal. But there are instances where prosecutor abuse the powers given to them by taking advantage of individuals who are lower income, uneducated, and feel pressured into agreeing.

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