The criminal court system in California resembles systems in other parts of the country in that the majority of cases are resolved without the need for a judge or jury. Statistics show that 97 percent of the criminal cases in the state end in plea bargains.

The plea bargain

Criminal law experts explain prosecutors and courts make plea bargains a priority to keep things moving through a crowded court system. It is not uncommon to see multiple no contest pleas given in a court on a given day.

Prosecutors have proven effective at encouraging defendants to accept plea agreements by stacking up the cases and potential punishments against them. The message to the defendant is that a lot is risked by exercising their constitutional rights to a trial. A plea bargain, in many cases, can also mean a commuted sentence.

One recent example of this involved a man who accepted a no-contest plea to DUI in exchange for a 180-day jail sentence. The “reward” for the cooperation was the suspension of all but nine days of the sentence.

Defendants who accept no contest pleas receive benefits other than a commuted sentence. They often have all, but the primary charge against them dropped when copping a plea.

The downside to these plea agreements is that defendants who receive plea bargains as a result of these deals make themselves available for warrantless searches at any time. Police officers can execute a search at any time against the probationer without the need for reasonable suspicion or probable cause.

Individuals currently involved in the immigration process may suffer a different set of problems due to a no-contest plea. It is a good idea for a defendant to know how the guilty plea will affect him or her in regards to immigration before pleading to a crime.

Help with criminal charges

Plea bargains are the tool of choice for prosecutors who wish to keep their docket moving with convictions. The level of benefit a defendant gains from a plea bargain is dependent on many factors. Individuals with questions about a plea bargain for a pending case may find the answers they need by talking to a criminal attorney.