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What is a plea bargain?

If you are facing a criminal charge in Lousiana, you may hear about something called plea bargaining. Most criminal cases involve this step in the legal proceedings. Understanding what it is and how it works can be quite beneficial to you and the final outcome of your case.

The American Bar Association explains that a plea bargain is an offer usually extended by the prosecution but also can be extended by the defense. Typically, you will be offered specific sentencing terms in return for your guilty plea. Usually, the offer also will reduce your charges or reduce the severity of the charges in some way. This is a process, though. You do have the right to try to negotiate the terms. The process usually takes place between just you and the prosecutor, but in some cases, others may have input as well. 

Some plea bargains may actually propose an alternative option, such as a diversion program. If you complete the program, your charges may be completely dropped. If you fail to complete the program, then you may be immediately found guilty and sentenced. 

Most criminal cases are resolved through plea bargaining, but that does not mean you must do it. When you accept a plea bargain, you are giving up your right to a trial. It is also important to understand the judge can divert from the plea bargain. He or she must approve it and may alter it in any way. This information is for educational purposes only and is not to be taken as legal advice. 

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