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What is a plea bargain?

You may have heard the term "plea bargain" in many situations before. Perhaps you've read it in a news story, heard it in a movie or something else. If you have ever been charged with a crime in Colorado, you may have talked with your attorney about whether or not a plea bargain is a good idea for you. Before you can make such a decision, it is important that you fully understand what a plea bargain actually is.

Simply put, a plea bargain is an agreement that is reached between a defense and a prosecution that involves some level of compromise on the part of one party or both parties. Many of the features of a plea bargain can vary from case to case but the one consistent element, according to the American Bar Association, is that it avoids the need for your case to go through a full trial.

Another common element of plea bargainining is the frequent reduction in the ultimate sentence received. This may be achieved either by having one or more charges dropped in exchange for your guilty plea to a remaining charge. It may be achieved by you pleading guilty to a less serious charge than what you were originally accused of as penalties increase with the severity of charges.

A benefit to both defendants and court systems alike is the reduction in time and costs associated with resolving cases. This information is not intended to provide legal advice but rather is meant to give Minnesota residents a high-level overview of what plea bargaining is and what the pros and cons of it may be.

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