Plea bargaining or “charge negotiation” can be used to reduce the severity of your sentence. But it’s important to consider the advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of plea bargaining
- It can avoid delay, stress and cost of a hearing or trial, as it can enable the prosecution to withdraw its case (or certain submissions) where appropriate.
- It can provide you with greater certainty as to the outcome of your case because you can control the facts on which you will be sentenced.
- If you plead guilty to a less serious charge, it can reduce the maximum potential penalty that you will face.
- It can avoid multiple trials or hearings arising out of the one criminal incident. If the prosecution cannot establish all elements of the offence charged at the trial or hearing, it may nevertheless have enough evidence to establish the elements of a less serious offence. This would mean another trial or hearing for the lesser charge.
- Where there are multiple offences, a plea to only some of the charges – the ones which are most representative – may be preferable to pursuing every single charge with no significant difference in outcome relative to the time and costs expended.
- It is possible to negotiate a charge that will be dealt with by the Local Court, rather than in the higher and more formal District Court.
- It can spare alleged victims and witnesses the trauma of having to testify. This may be especially relevant where the alleged victim or witness is related to the accused.
Disadvantages of plea bargaining:
- It can give the prosecution an indication of how you will conduct your defence. It may be that you have to disclose your defence and in so doing it gives the police the opportunity to obtain evidence to disprove your defence.
- In order to get the prosecution to withdraw a matter or to reduce the charge it may be necessary to highlight the weaknesses in the police case. Again, this gives the police an opportunity to fix any weaknesses in their case.
If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.