Plea agreements play a large role in courts in Tennessee and around the country. Many people have a hard time understanding why defendants are able to obtain such lenient sentencing through plea bargains, despite the severity of the crimes they are accused of committing. In many areas of the country, more than 90 percent of the criminal cases result in plea agreements. The primary reason is that the judicial system does not have sufficient resources to take every case to trial.
Some defense lawyers claim that the judicial system is not sustainable without a heavy reliance on plea bargains. Without the more favorable outcomes provided by plea agreements, defendants would have little incentives to plead guilty. The plea bargain typically involves the defendant agreeing to plead guilty lesser charges in exchange for a guaranteed sentence that would have been more lenient than what would have been the result if a trial ended up with a conviction. Often times, some of the related charges may ultimately be dismissed.
For most criminal charges, the prosecution will at least offer some type of alternative to taking the case to trial. The prosecution bases its decision to offer a plea bargain based on several factors, including the severity of the offense, the defendant's age and criminal history and the strength of the case. The prosecutor's goal is to hold the defendant accountable for the charges, and to reach a resolution that is reasonable for all parties affected by the incident.
A person facing criminal charges may want to obtain the assistance of a criminal defense lawyer. Legal counsel may be prepared to investigate the charges and begin working on a viable strategy to refute the allegations.