In most criminal cases in Georgia, there is at least some level of plea bargaining that occurs. This is true whether or not the defendant ultimately accepts the terms of a plea deal. There are potential benefits to both the prosecution and the defense in plea bargaining. For prosecutors, a plea deal frees up time and resources, and for the defendant, a plea deal might mean a lesser penalty. Either way, both sides gain certainty that they would otherwise not have.
Generally speaking, there are three primary areas of negotiation when it comes to plea bargaining. These are charge bargaining, fact bargaining and sentence bargaining. Charge bargaining involves the parties negotiating the specific charges levied by prosecutors. Often, the prosecutor will dismiss or agree not to pursue more severe charges in exchange for a plea of guilty to a lesser charge. Prosecutors might forgo a murder charge, for example, in exchange for a plea of guilty to manslaughter.
Fact bargaining is the least common type of plea negotiation. It involves the parties agreeing on certain facts relevant to the case. Prosecutors might do this so that they can avoid having to prove certain elements of a crime. Sentence bargaining involves the parties agreeing to a particular sentence in exchange for a guilty plea. The defendant might be able to avoid a more severe punishment by pleading guilty with a sentence already agreed to.
In a case where a person in Georgia has been charged with a crime, he or she might want to seek the assistance of an attorney. An attorney who practices criminal defense law might help during a trial by attacking weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case or by developing a narrative that calls into question the guilt of the client. If the client does not wish to go to trial, an attorney may be able to negotiate a plea that the client finds acceptable.