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Why plea bargains are used in criminal cases

Tennessee residents might wonder why plea bargains are allowed in criminal cases. Plea bargaining has been an accepted practice in the U.S. criminal justice system for decades. The process serves several purposes and can provide benefits to all of the parties who are involved.

Prosecutors are willing to plea bargain because they need to keep their calendars from getting overly scheduled. It is not possible for them to take every case to trial. Through plea agreements, they are able to clear their caseloads of cases that are less serious or are weaker so that they can concentrate on prosecuting more serious offenses.

Judges allow plea bargaining to take place because they provide a way to deal with cases efficiently and quickly. It can take years for cases to go to trial, and court calendars are already overcrowded. Allowing some cases to be resolved through plea bargaining helps to clear up the court's schedule. Defendants benefit from plea bargaining because they often result in lighter penalties than would be the case if they were convicted of the offenses charged. They may also benefit if the charge is reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor, as this could have a less-deleterious effect on their future employment prospects.

When a person is charged with a crime, a criminal defense attorney will review the circumstances in order to determine whether or not it is advisable to try to negotiate a plea agreement or instead to proceed to trial. However, the ultimate choice is that of the defendant, who may want to forego a deal and instead enter a not guilty plea.

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